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8 posts from March 2011

So Much FunMarch 31, 2011

It was just one of those weekends (I know, my weekends come at strange times -- my next weekend will start on Monday), packed with FUN and new things and great people, the kind of weekend that actually made us buy a lottery ticket. Just because. So many other good things were happening, why not? (We did not win. I have to admit I was a little surprised, which is just silly and goes to show.)

A few of the fun things because everyone likes a list:

1. I made chocolate cake in a mug and topped it with ice cream and hot fudge. It was AMAZEBALLS and took a couple of minutes to mix up with ingredients we had in the kitchen, and three minutes to cook. I told Lala I'd be right back (we were in between watching the new episodes of the Fabulous Beekman Boys and Megamind), and I came back with homemade cake. It was cool.

2. I stayed in bed almost all of Sunday, reading. It was glorious. Three whole hours with the paper. (I knew EVERYTHING for one fleeting minute. Then the feeling passed. As it does.)

3. Met up with fantastic writer friends to celebrate a new book release. At one point, I looked around the table and thought with some surprise, "These are my friends." It felt so good.

4. I feel like making this one blinky or sparkly: I FELL IN LOVE WITH AN ACCORDION. Really. Lala had a friend over to play some Mexican music (we are constantly confusing our neighbors), and got her accordion out to show Camilla. Then it was on the dining room table, so after a while I said something about getting it off and putting it away.

Then I opened the box. And promptly fell in love at first sight. I *know!* I do that! Hi, ukulele! But hey, I feel pretty proficient on the uke now (at least for playing along to singing, which was the goal), but I never felt like this about the uke (I swear Mom, he's not like any of the other boys). Look at this pearlized blue! OOOOH!


I got it out and before I even tried it, I told Lala, who was saying something CRAZY about selling it, that it could be stored in my office. No problem. Then she showed me some things to do with it, and I took off. I'm obsessed now, people. Yesterday I went to Smythe Accordion in Oakland, and I have books to learn from (most interested in gypsy/klezmer, but good old fashioned German folk songs are also awesome).

And I'm playing whole SONGS! Badly, of course, since there are three things to do while playing: right hand on the keyboard, left on the bass notes, all the while pushing and pulling to keep the air moving over the reeds -- it gets intensely confusing. But somehow, I feel drawn to it in the same ridiculous, doesn't-make-sense way I am to Venice. I just know.

5. And Lala got an iPad 2.

Ipad2  She's been dying for one, and we couldn't justify it, but then I got a little money from Australia (thanks, Australia!), and we could pull it off. And I'm not dumb. I put the iPad in the empty accordion case, brought her into my office and said, "I want to keep your accordion forever. I will trade you what's in that case." My arms were tight around the accordion -- she couldn't have pried it from my fingers if she'd tried.

Luckily, she agreed to the trade even before she knew what it was. (Points!) And when she picked her jaw back up off the floor, she said that the reason she'd been thinking about selling the accordion was to pay for an iPad.

Ha! Then I sold my hair and she bought me a comb.... you know the rest of the story. (And I think it's a nice gift exchange -- tomorrow we'll have been married 5 yearSheepish_covers. FIVE YEARS, people. Happy sigh.)

And one more fun thing before I forget! I'll remind you of this when the book hits bookstores on April 26th, but I have a galley copy of Catherine Friend's new memoir, SHEEPISH: Two Women, Fifty Sheep and Enough Wool to Save the Planet. I love this book -- I love her humor, and the way she pokes fun at herself the same way she does life, gently, with great kindness. I'll send it to one lucky commenter on this post w ho tells me something fun they've done recently.

Don't Forget! March 25, 2011

If you've read How to Knit a Heart Back Home, leave a review (any kind of review) somewhere (your blog, Amazon, B&N, etc) and let me know, and I'll add you to the drawing for the handwoven scarf, made in colors you choose! I'm drawing a random winner in ONE WEEK, on April 1st (the day Lucy's Kiss--same book, different title--goes on sale in Australia and New Zealand).

Of course, I'm not that great a weaver yet, so it might be a little wonky, but I'll put a lot of love into it, I promise.

While I thank you profusely, Willie sends you chilled vibes. This is NOT a stressed out cat (he literally hangs out like this, cracks me up no end):  

How to Knit Your Way Around DisneyworldMarch 24, 2011

Edited to add: Lala reminded me that was my title, because in every line, I knitted. Every. Line. It saved my sanity, and several people told me they wished they had theirs with them.

Last week, we went to Disneyworld! My in-laws took us, and that was AMAZING -- we can't be more grateful. It was so great to spend real time with family. I was trying to work, actually, putting the last touches on a proposal, but by the second day there, I sent my fabulous, understanding agent a note: "Please excuse Rachael from working this week. She just can't pull it together when having this much fun."


Ahhhh. Doesn't that look gorgeous? I took that picture in the morning last week, before anyone had dipped their toe yet. I meant to spend more time at the pool, but spent only one late afternoon there (with a vodka tonic in hand -- I still haven't reached my life goal of swimming up to a swim-up pool bar, but any pool bar is a good bar).

The ostensible reason for the trip was my nephew, Isaac, 21 months and DARLING. He knows his letters! His numbers! And how to beat his chest when asked if he is a baby gorilla!

And he went in the wading pool for the very first time in Florida (okay, I missed the actual event due to an unfortunate case of food poisoning. But I caught the next day's action):


 We also got to babysit one night, which was really fun. It's good if you're staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and can let the kid run around looking at zebras and giraffes. Also good if you can stuff him in a Hawaiian shirt and feed him sugar (JUST KIDDING) (MAYBE).


This was the view from our balcony. It was kind of ridiculously cool, really.


We spent four days at the four parks (I *loved* Epcot! So much more fun than I thought it would be). We spent the least amount of time at Hollywood Studios (although riding Tower of Terror while fighting food poisoning is HARDCORE, yo) and the most at Animal Kingdom, which was full of animals we like to stare at: gorillas, meerkats, anteaters and teenagers from Texas (who were apparently on spring break, along with Mississippi).

And we got in one day at Universal Studios for one reason: Harry Potter World.


 Snow! In Florida! I mean, just outside Hogwarts.


Um. Walking through Hogwarts, seeing Dumbledore himself (it was him, I know it was), was so awesome. I waved at Harry Potter and didn't feel dumb doing it. The ride, however, which makes you feel like you're flying through the castle, being chased by the Whomping Willow, and playing Quidditch? Urp. People recovering from food poisoning should think twice. Glad I went, wouldn't do it again. Then I got IMMEDIATELY on the dragon ride which goes upside down A LOT. Hardcore, I told you. I'm still not quite recovered.


Everyone was knitting, I tell you what.



And I have no idea what this is at Hollywood Studio, since when we were there it was closing up, but I did indeed stop: 

I LOVE THIS PHOTO: Isaac with hippo under water. I think I loved the hippos best of all the animals. (And the employees there! They were AWESOME. The docents are obviously kids with brand new shiny degrees, and they are DYING to tell you about the animals that they love. I asked the guy at this hippo exhibit how old the hippo was. His face fell so that I almost had to catch it. "I don't know," he said sadly. "I have to find out. You're the second person to ask me that this morning." Then his eyes brightened in hope. "But I can tell you so much about hippos, if you want me to. So much.")


Now we're home and getting back to normal, but I miss looking out the window to see what animals were wandering by, and I miss carrot cake being a side item for breakfast. Reality is a little less loop-di-loop and more bumper-to-bumper traffic, but there were no cute dogs there, or demanding, pushy cats, and I'm happy to be home.

I <3 Nicole PeelerMarch 15, 2011

Nicole I really do. Julie and Sophie and I adopted Nicole Peeler last year at Romantic Times -- basically, we walked up to her and told her that she was ours, and if she didn't like that, she'd just have to get over it. Luckily, she loves us back, and I want to share that love here. I'm so happy she answered a few questions I had for her to share here!

Rachael:  I love Jane True, the main character in this fabulous series. She's funny, irreverent, sexy, and really down-to-earth. In writing the books, what was the most surprising thing you've learned about her?

Nicole: It's been really for fun for me to watch Jane grow. As for the most surprising aspect of her evolution,  I think that it has to be just how tough she's gotten. She starts out the series very vulnerable, but she grows up quickly. More weird for me, I think, is that putting Jane into various situations means that I have to think through her reactions, and I'm often surprised at my own bloodthirstiness. I definitely have a strong protective, loyal streak, and I can get a little carried away with my own hypothetical violence. Meanwhile, I don't want to series to be uber-violent, so I normally tame it down. But that it's there, in my imagination, is always a surprise. I'm a pretty gentle soul on a day to day basis.

Rachael: Describe your ideal day in one sentence.

Nicole: A day traveling somewhere gorgeous with my favorite lover, knowing we have dinner reservations at a delicious restaurant. That's heaven!

OR going for another trip to the House of Prime Rib with you, Sophie, Juliet, and Jana. That was also heaven! [Rachael: omg, I'm still full (and perhaps still tipsy) from that dinner.]

Rachael: So you may have gathered I'm a knitter. What's your craft (besides writing)?

Nicole: I love your knitting! For me, my craft would have to be cooking. I love having the opportunity to cook for people. I love doing really earthy, simple dishes really well. I love entertaining!

Rachael: What frivolous thing will you not be giving up for Lent? Or ever for that matter?

Nicole: That's easy: sex. Are you kidding me?

Nicole's also a smartypants: see her bio below. The first book in her AWESOME series is just $2.99 this month. Try it. You WILL like it. Promise.


Nicole Peeler is a professor of English literature and creative writing at Seton Hill University, in Greensburg, PA. She also writes urban fantasy novels for Orbit Books. Her third novel, Tempest’s Legacy, just hit shelves in January.

For those American readers interested in Nicole’s fiction, Orbit Books is offering her first book, Tempest Rising, as this month’s Orbital Drop, downloadable on multiple platforms for only $2.99. Click here for more details.


Heart Back Home MittsMarch 12, 2011

Flying by (really, out the door in a minute) to say:

Did you see my new mitts up at Knitty?

Photo on 2011-03-06 at 16.50 #6

And did you see the contest (closes today at midnight EST) at the KnittyBlog? You could win the book, pattern, and YARN (from Lorna's Laces!) to make the Bookstore Cardigan. Do you know how much I love Amy and Jillian? They've been hosting me ALL week, and I want to give them the biggest hugs EVER. Love love love love.

Now, out! To RWA meeting! YAY! (And Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls is going to meet me there. She got me into weaving -- it's only fair I indoctrinate her into writing romance.)

I Owe You One, Pigeon PointMarch 9, 2011


You may have heard the story before, but writing How to Knit a Heart Back Home did not come easily to me. At first, it was a romantic suspense, with a stalker/killer and everything. Then, for about ONE second, Molly was the bad guy (it didn't stick -- I love her too much).

Then I got the green light from my editor to make it straight-up women's fiction, no bad guy/guns needed. Great! I wrote it! Sent it to her!

She liked it. The writing, that was. Not so much the plot, because I didn't HAVE much to speak of. Sure, the characters got mad at each other. I learned (the hard way), this is NOT PLOT. A plot has some sort of conflict that can't be fixed in a fifteen minute heart-to-heart.

I needed to put some of that in, and I didn't know how. I'd written the first book naturally, the turning points just happening in the right places. I'd been lucky. Now I needed to learn.

I took myself away to Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a hostel on the coast south of Half-Moon Bay. Incredibly inexpensively, I rented a private room (shared bath) in the Dolphin suite (shared full kitchen and living room).

I sat there and Thought About Plot. I wandered the beach by myself, looking to see if plot could be found by the water or under a rock. It was so elusive, this plot-stuff. Then, at sunset, sitting all by myself on a deserted beach, I got a glimmer of it. I looked up at the lighthouse, and some more ideas flashed into my head. Nothing huge, nothing that would change the immediate direction of the book, but big enough to let me know I could do it. Probably.

And I'm proud to say I did. I love where the book and I went together. And I am EXTREMELY fond of the Pigeon Point Lighthouse, so grateful to it that I gave it the penultimate scene in the novel (set, of course, in fictional Cypress Hollow).

My sister Bethany and I drove out there the other day, and took the dogs for a ramble on the beach. Her dog Boonie and my border collie Clara are serious besties, and they RAN and ran and ran. Beth took this one:


And we visited my lighthouse.



This last from Beth's pictures. Can't you just see You-Know-Who and You-Know-Who-Else up there?

I love that place. (It would be a great spot to hold a retreat -- ten people guarantees you the whole dorm including shared space, and sleeps up to 14.... Just saying....)

Why Knitty RULEZMarch 7, 2011

You guys! Amy and Jillian at have a whole week of surprises up their very fashionable sleeves.

Every day this week at the blog, there will be a contest, with a free copy of How to Knit a Heart Back Home being given away.

AND: I wrote up a sekrit little pattern, which you will at some point see. And then, hopefully, covet (it's Knitty, so it will be FREE!). 

AND: The grand prize is teh awesome.

I just wrote them a short note, but this kind of thing is why I LOVE KNITLAND. Isn't it just something when the people you work with end up being people you'd want in your life as your friend anyway? (I'm thinking of Susanna, my agent, specifically.) And Knitty Amy and I share the love of the uke (although she kicks ass at it, and I merely still plink -- but I plink with happiness and great gusto!) And when she's in town, I want her at my house, makin' music.

It just couldn't get any better, I don't think. I've had a wonderful release week (they're nerve-wracking things, these weeks), and the book launch party was FABULOUS. People came. I did not think it would happen. I really didn't. Next time: this is my goal. To treat it as just another day, without worrying, without begging those nearest and dearest to me to show up just to make numbers, and THEN see who shows.

And of course, it was AWESOME. Bookshop West Portal, you rock.


I stood under my poster in my new vintage late-60s dress that fit me perfectly and made me feel like an upholstered sofa. I said that, and I think people thought I was slagging on the dress, but I wasn't. I have a thing about vintage sofas, too. (Shawl is Swallowtail, in cashmere -- mmmm.)


Blurry but what a happy picture! I love this.

And what else? I have some work to do this fine day, and I'm not getting it done here, so I'm tempted to drive the coast to find a more conducive cafe. Perhaps one that has pie.

(And check the KnittyBlog this week for lots more fun!)

BOOK RELEASE DAY! March 1, 2011

All the excited words and exlamation marks can't tell you how over-the-moon I am that How to Knit a Heart Back Home is out today. YOU all know. It's been a long road, and it's been a whole YEAR since the first book came out -- can you believe that? I've been a published novelist for a year. And you know what? This morning, I'll wake up and make coffee and wander around the house, and nothing will have really changed, except that my book is out in the wild, making its own way, and I can't help it at all. It has to fend for itself.

That doesn't stop me from loving it, though. I love it so hard that I wrote a little song about it and played it on the uke for you. (And only with you, darling readers, will I share the link for the outtakes. Ahem.)


Like last year, I'm going to have a little drawing.  

In order to be entered, just post a review (good, bad, or middlin') of my new book on any website: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, or your own blog, by April 1st. Email me when you do, and I'll put you in the raffle!  

   Handwoven scarf

Two runner-up prizes: $25 Barnes & Noble gift certificates

Grand prize: a $50 Barnes & Noble gift certificate  

AND a handwoven scarf made just for you! (Choose your color; I'm having so much fun with my new Schacht Cricket loom!) It would look something like the scarf on the right, but you don't want that one, because it was my first and is a little bit wonky. (Also, I'll kick in a four-pack of Cadbury Creme Eggs, because everyone should have some this time of year.)  


So. YAY! I seriously can't wait to hear what you think. (And I think I'll sleep in today, burrowing under the covers, reading a romance, hoping for the best.) ENJOY!