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10 posts from February 2011

Whee! February 28, 2011

Just a drive-by to say HI OH MY GOSH I'M SO EXCITED THE BOOK IS COMING OUT TOMORROW and I have a post on knitting and love, and why I write knit-lit, over here today. (It's like lending out my blog. I like that.) 

Cypress Hollow RedFebruary 23, 2011

Lynn from Boise (who I saw this week at Stitches! What a treat!) dyed fiber for me in the colorway of my books. Wasn't that the nicest, kindest thing ever?

I'd already spun it up into singles, and couldn't decide what to do next with it. Then I saw Rabbitch at Maia's house, and stole from her hands the Noro Kureyon sock yarn Pam had given her, and then I had it: a woven scarf.


Isn't it GORGEOUS? It's scratchy, since the Noro is just like that, but I've washed it now and it's softer, and I think I'll use some conditioner, too. It's the kind of scratchy I won't mind, because I love it so much. Thank you, Lynn, Janice, and Pam! :)

WeavingFebruary 22, 2011

It was the one thing I said I'd never do.


No one could make me. No one would make me. I didn't have time. I had zero interest. None. What-so-EVER.


Nope. I didn't have the time, the room, or the desire. It was never going to happen.


Then Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls (whose superhero name I've decided is Ms. N. A. Bler) started tweeting that it took her an hour to warp her Schacht Cricket loom. (An hour! I got yer hour right here! I'd always thought it took a whole day to warp any kind of loom.) She tweeted she made a herringbone scarf on her second or third time out the gate. (I like herringbone!)

And the loom was so cute, there at Stitches, just waiting for me to buy, buy, buy. The above is my first attempt (it did indeed only take me an hour to warp, but that was after putting the dang thing together, which was tricky for someone who doesn't do well with tools), and it's really clumsily woven in places. I just used Cascade 220, one handpainted, one variegated. But I love it.

[Tech question to Those Who Know: See the right side of the pic, where you can see the warp? I like that. But in order to get that, I wasn't draping the yarn at a 45 degree angle before beating, I was draping it much closer (15 degrees?) which gave me a good selvedge, but it was pulling in quite a bit. When I made sure to drape it out at 45 degrees(ish), my selvedge went ragged again, and the warp disappeared under the weft, no matter how softly I beat with the heddle.* Whazzup with that?]

And just for fun, to prove I still knit (I haven't shown you the last THREE sweaters I've made! I swear I will! Eek!) here's my Swallowtail, preblocking, with Digit as guard.


Green cashmere of some sort, and I don't remember where I got it. Rhinebeck, perhaps? At the moment, it's blocking on the bed, which was a bad idea, because I feel like napping, and that's the best place since my feet are cold. Poor knit-planning. I suppose I could kick some dogs off the couch, if it comes to that.

*Look at me using all those new words I didn't know a few days ago!!!!

Thoughts on Novel RevisionFebruary 17, 2011

RwarevSaturday morning, I got to do something that I was both thrilled and honored to do. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, and I gave a presentation on revision to the San Francisco chapter of the Romance Writers of American on revision. (Edited to add: He writes about it HERE.) Specifically, we spoke on how to start thinking about revising something as big as a novel.

Novels are interesting beasts. They're, obviously, not articles, or short stories, which the brain can deal with wrapping around in one sitting (not FIX in one sitting, of course, but the breadth of a short story can be comprehended, much like the way a bicycle works can be understood -- we can see the parts, and we can remember what importance the gears have while thinking about the brakes).

Novels are more like cars, I think. Say someone gives you all the parts to build a car, dumps them in your driveway and says, "Here you go! Just put this stuff in the right kind of order and you'll have a car!" Or really, let's look at this analogy a little deeper -- the truth is, no one is going to bring you those parts. You have to find them, find all those words and sentences and paragraphs in scrap heaps and then haul them home yourself. And THEN you have to make them into something that runs. By yourself. And no one really cares if you build a car or not, and you have to do it in your free time that you could be using for different things. The only manuals you have to go by say things like "avoid adverbs." Avoid adverbs! That's like avoiding spark plugs! We have to have a couple in there, for pete's sake!

I've abused the analogy further than I needed to, but the point is: Writing a novel is hard. Finishing the first draft is sheer TRIUMPH. The feeling of writing the words "The End" ranks up there with really great sex, downhill speed skiing, jumping out of an airplane (I'm not going to test that last one -- I'm daring but not crazy).

And then once you're done, you're faced with . . . crap. A lot of drivel. Wasted scenes and plot devices that went nowhere. Your five year old nephew could do better in crayon, and maybe you should give the manuscript to him to use for scratch paper.

Where do you START? That's the really scary part. And that's what Chris and I talked about. He was the voice of inspiration -- the world needs YOUR novel (it does). You can fix it (yes, you can). It will take longer than you think it will. You are not wasting time. It is better than you think it is. Some of his tips can be found HERE. He was great -- he's a fabulous speaker, very inspirational, and so funny I heard women hiccupping in the audience through tears of laughter.

My part of the presentation was on the how of it all. I'm all about concrete steps (like: touch the manuscript every day, even if you just open it, go pale, and close it again), and I like knowing how I work, what works for me. Some of what I spoke about you can read HERE. Of all my tips, the All Important Post-it is the biggest one. Don't write in the margins of your manuscript as you go: You will never, ever, ever see that page again. Instead, jot that idea on a little Post-it. Put in on a page, and glance at that page every time you sit down to work. It's like MAGIC, I swear it is.

But the coolest part of the whole thing was at the very end, when Chris asked to go around the room and ask for revision tips from the members. What did they wish they had known about revision, what did they wish someone had told THEM early on in the process? Out of probably 35 people there, every person had something different to say, something valuable. I remember these: Alice Gaines said, "Don't panic." Elizabeth Jennings said, "Every scene has a weight, a heft, and it's good to remember balance: place the lighter ones next to the heavy ones." Ooooh! I can't remember any of the rest with my sieve-like brain. I'm going to email the group and ask them to come over here and leave their smart, smart comments, so you can see them.

And you, what do you wish someone had told you about revisions? What have you had to learn the hard way?

Easiest Spicy Tortilla Soup EverFebruary 15, 2011

I just have to share this with you -- no one can screw this up, not even me. BEST SOUP EVER for a cold, rainy day. With just 5 minutes prep time, and made in the crock pot overnight, perfect for taking for lunch at work, or have it for breakfast (YUM). A dollop of sour cream in the bowl and half an avocado sliced on top, and Bob's yer uncle in heaven.

Dump all this in your crock pot:

Box of chicken broth (30ish ounces?), extra water if it wants watering down after you put everything in, mine doesn't

2 reg sized cans of chopped tomatoes (use the spicy flavored if you like, or really, any kind)

1 can refried beans (for creaminess)

1 can black beans (I use TJ's Cuban style)

1 can kidney beans

1 or 2 cups of frozen corn (I use TJ's roasted corn)

1tsp - 1tbs of chipotle powder (MOST IMPORTANT INGREDIENT, adjust to taste)

tsp or two of salt

tsp of cumin, if you swing that way

2 - 4 pieces of frozen chicekn (I like thigh but breast works)

Cook for 8 hours on low, remove chicken, shred with sharp knife and fork, and put the chicken back in. DONE! EAT! (You'll notice there are no tortillas in this recipe. Some people like tortilla chips on top, or tortillas on the side -- I don't bother with them at all. But I still call it that.)

Winners! February 11, 2011

Drumroll please (well, Random.org doesn't really do a drum-roll. OMG, that's what they should put on their site! Every time you hit the "Generate" button, it should make a drum-roll noise! I would love that):

The winners of the eight galley copies (sent directly from HarperCollins/Morrow):


(formerly no-blog) Rachel

Oakland Jodi

Mary (bpod)



Lily (LoopyL)

Lynne (Lypaulli)

All winners, I'm in the process of emailing you now to confirm and get your mailing addresses. I swear, swear, double-dog swear I am RANDOM about these. I do know that three people (more? hard to tell from handles) are on this list that I like to hug as often as possible (as I want to hug all you darling commenters, of course!).

And now, you've downloaded the FREE short story HONEYMOONING on your Nook or Kindle, right? And have you reviewed it? Yay! (And you know you don't have to have one of fancy devices, right? Just download the Nook or Kindle app for your computer or your smartphone -- and sadly this only applies to Canada and US at this moment; we are still working on taking over the world. Maybe Tuesday we'll get to that?)

Me, I'm off for work for the next five days. At some point I'm going to do this: I'm going to load the third Cypress Hollow novel onto my Kindle from my Word document draft. I'm going to get into bed with it, and then I'll read it like I read all my other books. When I do this at the final draft of a revision, all sorts of awkward things jump out at me, just because it's been formatted to Look Like a Book. I keep my laptop next to me, and as I find problems, I will roll over and fix them, and then I'll keep reading.

This is my favorite part of revising (and I pretty much love all the parts of editing), because it comes with built in naps. I can't wait. Enjoy your weekend, all.

EVEN MORE FUN! February 8, 2011

Know what's even more fun than the short story (now up on the Nook as well as the Kindle)? Another EIGHT chances to win the galley copy (limited edition, different awesome cover) of HOW TO KNIT A HEART BACK HOME, which won't hit stores until March 1st.

Only eight left! You could have one! (I'm so excited I'm abusing exclamation points. Sorry about that!)

To be eligible to win: Be a member of my mailing list, and leave a comment on this post. So chances are good, since I'll be pulling the eight winners from the commenters here.

SQUEEE! I really like today. And later, I'm going to go drink European Sipping Chocolate, so it's going to get ever better.

(I'll draw the winners on Friday.) (Woot!)



I'm so excited. Today, HONEYMOONING (a Cypress Hollow short story) is available for FREE on the Kindle, Nook, (or download Kindle for your PC or Mac and read it on your computer!).

It's the story of Janet and Tom (you met them in How to Knit a Love Song), and what happens when they have to keep their clothes ON for the honeymoon. And it cracks me up. I'm very fond of them, and I hope you like them, too.

It's free for two weeks (step right up!), and if you don't have a Kindle you can still read it on your computer.

Go get it! Yay! SO EXCITED! xoxo

The WinnerFebruary 5, 2011

is drawn! Stitchandquilt, you've won the ARC for How to Knit a Heart Back Home. I've emailed you, and I hope you like it.

And to the rest of you: I hope you enjoy the weekend! Tonight, I'm going to my VERY FIRST CRAB FEED. (Seriously, it's been a goal in life to go to a crab feed. I ate my lunch at noon, but I'm not eating another BITE until I get the crab. I. Love. Crab. I'm going to eat as much as I possibly can. Gluttony? Yes. Excited about it? Oh, yeah.)

ARC Giveaway! February 1, 2011

I found one last advanced reader's copy of How to Knit a Heart Back Home (in the car, of all places), and I'm giving it away in celebration of the fact that one month from today, the book will be out.

Fun fact: This is a collector's edition -- it has the first prototype cover, not the new one.

In order to enter, just make sure you're on my mailing list. Click HERE (and if you don't remember you can enter your email again -- if it asks you if you'd like to update your profile or resubscribe, you're already on the list and entered).


PS - I barely EVER send email, just when something is coming out that I don't want you to miss. And I don't share my list, ever.