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« June 2011 | Main | August 2011 »

5 posts from July 2011

TanglesJuly 31, 2011

Clementine, our little beagle/pit bull mix, is a runner. I've never met a more loving dog in my life, and she only wants two things: to sit in your lap and shmuddle you to death, and to run. (Also, she wants to catch rats at the beach, but let's not talk about that.)

While I was writing the other day, I'd left her in the backyard. She likes to lie in the sun for hours and will stay happily out there by herself. I checked on her a couple of times, and she smiled and thumped her tail but had no interest in coming inside. The next time I looked out at her, I didn't see her. She wasn't in the backyard, and she wasn't in the house.

She'd pushed her way out of the gate and the front gate was ajar, so she'd gotten out.

I was terrified, instantly. In the past, we'd at least seen her go, and we'd been able to give intelligent chase. This time, I just had to guess where she might have gone. I ran around the neighborhood, calling her name over and over again, thinking "I've lost Lala's dog. Oh, shit, I've lost Lala's dog."

It has a happy ending -- I saw her racing up another (busy) street and called her, whereupon she pretended not to know me until I got that I'M SO DEAD SERIOUS tone in my voice and she dropped to the ground like she'd been shot. I carried her home, scolding her the whole way.

At home, she started acting funny. She seemed too nervous to sit next to me on the porch while I read, and instead, she went under the jasmine on the porch.

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She walked around and around, spinning and pushing her way farther in each time. I watched, curious, as she began to stand funny.

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No way. She couldn't be stuck. Could she be? I watched some more and then called her. She pretended not to hear me. She was fine, her body language told me. She was totally fine. She didn't need ANY help.

I got closer.

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Yep. She'd made a noose of the jasmine vines. They weren't tight, but they were holding fast. She'd never have gotten out of it if I hadn't been there to break all the strands, and she could have done herself serious damage if she'd tried to.

What struck me was her attitude. When I caught her running on the road, she looked at me with a face that told me she didn't need me, not one little bit. I think I'm like that when I'm writing a first draft. I run fast, and I run hard. I dodge cars and stray bullets and if I hit the writing freeway, I run faster. If I see someone I know, I look away and pretend I haven't seen a thing. But then I usually end up exhausted and confused, and I need someone to help me home, to the finish.

And the whole jasmine bush ordeal reminded me of what it feels like to be working on a big novel revision. That's where I am now -- the first pass through. I'm tangling myself up in the plot threads, spinning and burrowing, and sometimes I look out and I'm surprised to find I can't move. I completely wind myself up so that I'm trapped.

The natural extension of the metaphor would say that I need people to help me out, to untangle me. And that's true, in a way. No one can help me at this point in a book. Talking doesn't work, and another person reading my work at this fragile state might be catastrophic.

But just sitting around with friends, talking about writing? That helps. Talking about the world, laughing together. That's the way out, I think. Taking time away from the draft. Being together with REAL people.

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And hanging out with dogs. That helps, too.

Oh, and also with cats, especially crankypants named Digit:

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Messy Sunday hair (it's all natural on top now -- that's the silver grown out)!

Purrs to you and yours.

A Fool in LoveJuly 22, 2011

You know me -- I never mind making a fool of myself on my blog. Maybe it's because I control the foolishness, but it's just fun. It's not like I really want y'all to see me trip over my own feet and bring down a whole tray of glasses on my way to the ground, but I don't mind letting you see this kind of thing: me messing around on my accordion.

Lately I've been loving coming home after work, sitting at my desk, and picking up the accordion. I noodle around and then I look up and three hours have gone by. That happened tonight, and I'm sleepy, but I thought I'd post this before I went to bed.

 

For those of you interested in seeing what the song can REALLY sound like played by a pro, I love this version. And the whole soundtrack (anything by Yann Tiersen, really) is amazing. (And if you're wondering, no, I don't have the score -- that vacant stare I get as I look to the left is me reading the inside of my head as I try to remember what comes next. I've been learning by ear. I should take some lessons sometime, I know I should.)

Dude. It is so fun.

Winners and Sabine! July 15, 2011

As I promised, the names of the winners of the 3 WISHES & STITCHES galleys are:

Yvonne Going to Maui

Kristan Higgins (Um, now I'm gonna have to die. I didn't know she was signed up for my email list, plus her books are AWESOME. Thank you, Random Generator, for freaking me out!)

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Winners have been emailed (even Kristan - gulp). If you didn't win, there will be more chances, promise! And thank you for the AWESOME book recommendations! Woot!

 

Sabine

I realized I never got around to showing you a picture of a sweater I wear a LOT, Cocoknit's Sabine. I think I've decided I'm actually going to make it again, something I rarely do with sweaters. But this is just so damn wearable, and wear it I do.

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Like the pin? Got it at the Oakland Fiber Festival (my new favorite festival out there -- so perfectly OAKLAND) last weekend, and I'm so sorry, I don't know who I bought it from. He said he only sells at festivals, so there's that.

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It's exactly what I've been looking for.

Project details at Ravelry, link HERE.

Now I'm off to PLAY! Day off! Friend on her way over! Food and fun planned. Yay.

* ADDED: My friend Thea's Knitting on the Coast retreat in August isn't quite filled up yet, in case you wanted to think about it. I'd be there, but I'm working, but I WANT to go. And I'm digging her two free patterns that are up, esp. the mitts.

 

Guess What I Got? July 9, 2011

It's the pre-pub ARC for my October release, WISHES & STITCHES, the third novel in the Cypress Hollow Yarns series. Squee! Isn't it gerjess? (I love that there's an ampersand in the title. Dunno why, but I do.)

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GIVEAWAY!

I'll give three of these away to one random commenter on this post, and to two random people signed up on my email list (do both! Double your chances! If you're already on the list, you're automatically entered).

And you definitely don't have to do this, but as you leave a comment, why don't you leave the name/author of the last best book you read? I'd love to expand my to-be-read list....

I'll pick the winners on Friday the 15th.

Saturday July 10th

I'll be signing from 12-2pm at the Oakland Fiber Festival in Splashpad Park -- you should come by and say hello! I'd love to see you.

Whew. Business is done. And now, I'm trying to decide what to do tonight. I could read, watch TV (what? I don't even know what to watch anymore! It's like when cable and the TiVo moved out of our house two months ago, my brain went with it. We have our pick of everything Hulu+, Netflix, Amazon and iTunes has to offer, which is, like, everything, and therefore, I don't watch TV anymore. Too many choices!), clean the house, purge my closet (I'm feeling the urge), knit, or spin. Look at this merino/bamboo that I bought from Creature Comforts (who is also a writer I met at RWA).

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It's called "Shiver Me Timbers" but I like to call it "Accordion Blues."

Well. That does it. I'll spin.

What Not to Do When in New YorkJuly 5, 2011

Last week while this blog was so quiet, I was in New York on business, and while house sitting my agent’s apartment, I managed to set it on fire.

Yes. On fire.

For ten or fifteen minutes, I ran back and forth from the room filled with firefighters and a still-smoking air conditioner, to the front door, frantic that neither cat escape as the men tromped in and out, because honestly, the only thing worse than dealing with a fire in your agent’s house would be losing her cat.

While wearing no pants. (It was muggy! I wanted air conditioning! I was thinking ahead!) Fortunately I thought to pull some on just before the fire department arrived.

The air conditioning unit had snapped, sparked and smoked shortly after I turned it on, but the firefighters said it put itself out, with no extension into the walls. They handled it with severity, taking absolutely no interest in me when I told them that I worked for the fire department back home. They tromped out, back toward their dinners I’d made them leave on their tables, their axes on their shoulders, and I was left shaking in the living room.

I called Susanna and, using my calm dispatcher voice, told her what had happened. Then I had a very short indulgent cry and the tiniest dram of Laphroig, which Susanna’s husband considerately kept in their liquor stash for probably just such occasions.

I was hungry, but I didn’t dare leave the apartment, sure that if I did, some other plugged-in appliance would leap into flame. Fortunately, it was New York, so I poked around their kitchen drawers until I found the compulsory menu package. Thirty minutes later, I ate sushi that had been delivered to the door (oh, sweet, sweet delivery). I had a glass of wine. I read my book.

Then I went to bed and, unable to drop off, stared up at the ceiling in the muggy heat, my shirt pulled up, a cool wet washcloth on my stomach.

It hit me then: I was in New York. On business. I was a writer. A real one. It was my third trip to the city on business in as many years, and I felt so freakin' lucky. Beyond lucky. Completely, gobsmacked amazed.

What was the best part of the RWA National Convention? Besides my roomies, who were awesome? (Giggle fits! Every night a slumber party!)

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AJ Larrieu and Kristin Miller

 

The Best Part

I think my absolute favorite moment was the HarperCollins party, which was at the boathouse in Central Park. (I know.) When I walked in, I had such a moment. I walked past the string ensemble to the dock overlooking the boaters. How many movies had I seen set in that location? Innumberable. The air was warm but not too heavy, and turtles bobbed in the water below.

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Writing is mostly sitting alone, staring at a screen, concerned the words will never come, or when they do, they'll be wrong. And writers, when they dare to dream, dream of being published. I never got past that dream. That was as big as I dared. But if I'd dreamed bigger, I would have dreamed of being feted in an iconic New York locale, a glass of champagne in my hand. I never thought it would happen. I babbled something like this to one of the editors who gave me a funny look. I said, "I'm sorry. I sound crazy. But this is the dream." She said, no, she loved hearing it and that I should tell her more.

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It felt like magic. I was starry-eyed. (I also felt rather like a rube--most of the other people seemed to take it all in stride. But I didn't. Anyway, it's more fun to be amazed, isn't it?)

Also, there were cardboard books to pose with:

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That is, indeed, Eloisa James posing inside her own book. Heh. And here I am:

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Like my dress?

 

Also on my trip:

Knitting with knitters! Wonderful afternoon at Jenn Jarvis's house with some of my favorite people. Seeing a fun ska-hula-billy band at Ottos' Shrunken Head in the East Village with friends. Having my phone die on Thursday (it's Tuesday now, still don't have the new one yet) and being in a strange city with no internet or phone. Old skool! I used maps! Wrote phone numbers down! It shook me up more than I thought it should. Also, I missed Twitter unreasonably. It was a little embarrassing.

 

They Say It's My Birthday!

Overall, I think it's a good way to start a new year. It's my birthday today! And tomorrow I start a new job (same 911 fire/medical gig, new agency), and everything feels bright and fresh and a little scary. I'm thirty-nine, and this is my last hurrah before the big 4-0 next year. (I counted on my fingers this morning to be sure. This is not like 33, which I missed entirely.) Everyone (meaning Lala) has me freaked out over the 40 thing, so I'm going to do this year right.

I think I'm going to go for balance.

I know, what? Balance? I don't do balance. I run marathons or I sit on the couch. I write novels because it's a challenge. I pick (a lot of the time, sadly) work over family and friends, staying at my computer crazy-long hours. Maybe I could change this. So I'm thinking about this a lot.

What comes to mind when you think of balance? Where do you want balance in your life? I'm making a list.

 

To Read:

And while I'm going on and ON, let me tell you about a book I read this week that I LOVED. Lovely reader Linda told me about it: My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir by Noelle Hancock. I was completely impressed and inspired by it--the story of a woman taking stock of her life and working on fear. She weaves Eleanor Roosevelt's story in with her own in a charming, smart way, and I highly recommend it.

* <psa> Thank god Susanna had a land line on which to call 911, since I had no phone and all. Eek! Keep your land line! (In California, it doesn't even need to have service to call 911. I have no land line service, but I keep the phone plugged in to use it when I have to.)  </psa>