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6 posts from August 2011

Read ThisAugust 25, 2011

Y'all.

I just read the best book I've read in a lonnnnnggggggggg time, and that's saying a lot because I read a lot, and I only read good books (I have no patience for books that are not great -- I have a theory, and I think it's a valid one, that there are too many great books out there, and I will not have time to read them all.* Why waste my time with something I'm not adoring? I spend a lot of time screening books -- reading first chapters on my Kindle and then not purchasing unless I'm in love. And even if I love the first half, if the second half doesn't keep me, I don't need to finish it. It's kind of like dropped stitches in lace -- NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW).

Anyway.

This book was nothing short of amazing.

THE HOMECOMING OF SAMUEL LAKE, by Jenny Wingfield.

Samlake

I'd heard of it a year or more ago, from my agent, who also represents Jenny. And I have to admit this to you (because I'm a compulsive confessor), while I normally don't feel much jealousy, even in the writing world which can be thick with it, I felt a twinge when Susanna  waxed rhapsodic about this book. I've never seen her talk like ANY book the way she talked about this one. She just knew this was going to be something, really something.

Come on. Was it that good?

Yes. It's better.

I read it in a day, and I'm not one of those people. I don't read a book in four hours--I can't. I have to figure out how writers do things, and that sometimes takes a while. I'm a book-a-week, usually. But this one I carted around the house with me, took a three hour bath with it, and then crawled into bed with it and stayed there till I was done. I had my own blasted writing to do, and this was more important (plus it fed the soul, which I also needed, so that was fine).

Now, personally, I don't read back-cover copy, and I hate watching trailers. I want to know that something is good, and then go in cold, so I won't tell you much. I'll tell you this, though: the characters she draws are full, complete, and I know them. The villain is the MOST VILLAINOUS villain I've come across in a long time. I felt hatred in my heart like I don't carry for real-life evil people. Swan, the young protagonist -- oh, oh. Not since Scout have I wanted to be a character like I wanted to be her.

Get it. Buy it. Tell everyone you know. Tell ME, too, what you think. And enjoy.

 

* I'm a HUGE Milton fan, did you know that? And did you know that it's postulated that he was the last man to ever read everything that was available to read? (Of course, a lot of that was read to him by his poor daughter after his eyes failed, so I always consider her second on the list.)

Late Night RamblesAugust 19, 2011

It's late, and I'm moved to write of random things.

1. Christian Louboutin, if I ever liked your shoes (which I did, at a distance, on Oprah's feet), I do not now. I realize that neither you personally nor your company are responsible for the gajillion spam comments someone makes in your name, but it's been YEARS now, and they're still coming, no matter how I block or dodge.

2. Google +, I'm almost convinced for this reason alone: my chones circle. You know what chones are, right? They're underwear. My chones circle is comprised of people in front of whom I don't mind if my underwear shows, friends who would tell me I had toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my shoe and then laugh with, not at, me. THOSE people. (Okay, they might laugh at me.) You have them in your life. They're ones you can wail to without worrying you won't look professional. See, Twitter used to be that for me, but then I got all writer-ly and now I have to make sure I spell things right and sit up straight and always wear my seat belt (not that I don't always wear it -- I do -- it's a compulsion, actually. But you know what I mean).

(Of course, last night I took an Ambien before bed and OH GOD, I ended up Ambien-tweeting! Don't look now, because I deleted the incriminating tweets WHEN THEY WERE POINTED OUT TO ME, but I was sending love sonnets to Armistead Maupin via tweet (which he deserves because he's awesome but OH GOD). I could not make this up. And I posted a picture of my nightstand because I thought it was GORGEOUS.  Please keep the phone away from me when I'm on Ambien. See? If I'd posted things like that to the chones circle, I wouldn't be dying of embarrassment now.)

(Still blushing.)

3. Facebook - Meh. I'm still there, on the author page (but without friends because I got rid of the personal page) and I find it cold there now. I thought I'd like it more, just being A Writer, but apparently as much as I kvetched about it, I did like seeing what my high-school acquaintances were doing with their Sunday afternoons. I didn't know that once that ability was gone I'd miss it. That's a surprise.

4. The lion shall lie down with the lamb.

Lionlamb
I think it's funny Sir Digit and Clara both somehow know they're mine, and they get along, mostly ignoring each other. As Digit gets crankier by the day, he gets more irritated with everything that draws breath, and lives to chase poor Clementine into corners just to hulk over her, making her shake with terror. But Clara? They live and let live. And hang out in my office.

and the winner is....August 15, 2011

Tidycat Debbie! She's been emailed, thanks to ALL of you for playing.

And me? I'm good, with an ankle that's almost fully recovered. I can sit cross-legged again (whew!) and I can imagine running again, perhaps in a couple of weeks. Don't worry, I'll try very hard not to overdo it like I normally do....

So sleepy today. That is all. Mwah!

GiveawayAugust 12, 2011

I love giving away books that aren't my own. And I really love giving away my friends' books. Wendy and I go waaaaaaayyyyyy back. Back to the stone ages, when we were blogging on papyrus and RSS readers were done by smoke signals.

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of her new book, Essential Techniques and Patterns for Irresistable Everyday Lace, and it's GORGEOUS.

Wendy

Basically, I want to make everything in it, and Wendy makes the lace approachable enough that I think I could (which is really something -- I am no lace master). I especially love the True Love stole....

I couldn't resist taking the opportunity to ask her a couple of questions that I've been DYING to know:

1. I love to watch Project Runway and ANTM while knitting -- it's my guilty pleasure. What is your favorite TV show to watch while knitting and why?

Okay, I had to google "ANTM" to figure out what it was. ;-) Clearly I am not among the trendy. I do watch tv -- I love 1940s movies, and also Doctor Who (because I'm a big ol' geek). But my all time favorite show to knit to is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I have the series on DVD and on Sunday afternoons I will pop in a disk and watch 4 episodes in a row while knitting. I know all the shows so well that it provides a nice background. I don't have to pay too close attention if I'm knitting something complex. But it's sort of comforting to have an old favorite on the tv. I'm all about the familiar and comfortable.


2. My grump Digit and your gorgeous Lucy have been having a not-so-secret long-distance affair for many years now. What keeps the spark alive, do you think?

I think it's the old "absence makes the hear grow fonder" thing. Long distance relationships are so romantic. You have all the yearning and passion with none of the reality of a relationship. ;-)
Thanks, Wendy! Digit sends purrs!
I'll send a copy of this book (but not my copy -- I'm keeping that!) to one lucky random commenter on this post. I'll draw the winner on Monday. Good luck!
*COMMENTS CLOSED, thanks for commenting, all! The winner has been notified.*

A Little HelpAugust 9, 2011

Cari's lovely post really spurred me back into Couch to 5K and I'd been enjoying running again. I had a great combo on my iPhone -- the c25k free app, and RunKeeper, and the amazing This American Life app (ALL their episodes! Dude!). I could run forever with these things!

Until I fell at Lake Merritt the other day while running. I wasn't running hard, but I was going along at a good clip, and BOY did it hurt to twist my ankle like that. But I roll my ankles a lot (thanks, Dansko) and I know I can just keep walking, walk it off. In a minute or two, I knew it would feel better.

But it didn't. The pain got worse. And worse. And even worse. I had to call a friend (the lovely Julie of the PensFatales) to pick me up and take me to the emergency room, and do you have ANY idea how much I hated doing that? Seriously, I tried to walk to my car. I couldn't breathe, it hurt so badly. I got out my phone and started to dial her. Then I tried to walk some more, and knew I had to either call her or an ambulance. I hated asking for that help, but she was SO good to me and so loving, and  two nice boys helped me across the sidewalk into her car, and she whisked me to Kaiser Oakland, where they were very nice to me. X-rays showed it wasn't a break, just a bad sprain, and I was bandaged up and sent on my way (after which I went to Whole Foods and wreaked havoc in one of their sit-in shopping carts).

Something about that day has been weighing on me, though. While I was sitting on the curb at the lake, one shoe off, crying because I couldn't quite make myself stop, only two people stopped to ask if I was okay. Now, I didn't need help. I was waiting for my ride, and there was nothing anyone could have done to help me, unless they had a bag of frozen peas on their person. I told the two who stopped that they were sweet to check, and I thanked them fervently.

But two hundred, perhaps, passed me, many of them looking right at me. Some looked worried, and they hesitated in their steps, as if trying to consider what to do next. Then they moved on.

And I've been that person. I'm not going to be again. I've seen women crying on the street, and instead of touching their arm and saying, "Are you okay?" I've just walked on, assuming it's none of my business. Perhaps their boyfriend just dumped them, or their mom just died. I'm sure I couldn't help in these situations. 

But what if I could?

After my first-ever book signing, we went to the Philosopher's Club. I may have had a few drinks, you never know. Late that night, when there were just a few of us left in the bar, I went to the bathroom. A woman stood there, sobbing, in front of the sinks. Maybe because I was tipsy, I asked her, "Can I help you? What's wrong?" Turns out that while we'd been toasting my book success, she and her friends had been mourning the loss of their good friend's child, who had just died. And I hugged her, and started crying with her (that part MAY have had something to do with the tequila, but you never know).

Even inebriated, it was most certainly A Moment, shared with a stranger. She kissed me on the cheek and thanked me and hugged me more, and when she left the bathroom, she looked a little tiny bit better.

And I think if, after my mother died, someone had asked me what was wrong as I cried my way around the lake, I might have told them. And if that stranger had hugged me, I would have felt better. Period. (YOU all hugged me online. I remember that. That helped, all the time.)

Now I'm going to at least ask. It's the very least I can do as a human being, and I'm ashamed of the times that I haven't.

(Aside: Of course, I'm not advocating going up to a crazy person on Market who's ranting and crying and kicking newspaper boxes. That could be dangerous, and requires a totally different skill set, natch.)

IMG_0247

Boy, I hope this heals quickly. It's a pain. But Adah is helping.

ETA: Lorajean of KnittedWit fame just left a comment that had me tearing up. Yes. THIS is what I'm talking about:

Me and my boss at the time were going out to eat and came across a lady who had just hoped off her bike to answer a call. She had just found out that her brother died. So terrible. We stayed with her until her husband came and picked her up. Never hurts to ask.

Big News!August 4, 2011

BIG! Two big things!

New Book

First, and you may already know this if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, but A LIFE IN STITCHES, my memoir, is shipping now.

Let's pause while I freak out and jump up and down and trip over lawn furniture in my excitement.

Lifeinstitches

Isn't it GERJESS? I'm so in love with this cover I could just swoon (and sometimes I do). You can find it now in your local indie (although it's early, you may have to order it), or at Amazon, Powells, or Barnes & Noble. Sadly, it's NOT available just yet digitally, but it WILL be, in just a few weeks. I'll let you know the minute it is (sign up for my email list to make sure you get the word).

I love this little book. I worked really, really hard on it, and I swear to you, there's a piece of my soul on every page. It's a collection of twenty short essays, my life as seen through the sweaters I was making at the time (what I was knitting when I turned into a teenager, what was on the needles when Mom died...). I tried to be as honest as possible, and every time I hit what I thought was too honest, my editor (memoirist Jennifer Traig, I LOVE her work) would push me harder to go even further.

I'm proud of it. I hope you like it. (And the forward is by our own Clara Parkes! I'm honored by it.) (Oh, and also, an essay from it is in the September issue of Ladies' Home Journal! HOW COOL IS THAT?) (Also, the little mama sweater is on the top of that pile of sweaters up there. I love that.)

Audiobook!

It's here! You asked for it, you got it. How to Knit a Love Song, available from Blackstone Audio, carried by Audible.com.

AudibleHTKALS

I have to tell you this: I was SO SCARED to listen to this. I've read this book more times than anyone on the planet ever will. I could quote whole sections to you, and if you buy me an ice cream cone, I will. I did NOT want to hear it again, and I was terrified by the thought of someone else translating my words into a voice that wasn't my own.

But yesterday, I downloaded it from Audible and put it on my iPod. On my way to work, I screwed up my courage and hit play.

Oh. My. God. Read by Carrington MacDuffie, she made my own book new to me. I was actually interested in what would happen next. He said what? She's going to do that?

The next two books will also be coming out on audio, too, and I'm so pleased. Knitters and audiobooks go together like silk and merino, don't they?

So yes. Big things, all over the place. Now I'm going to go sit in a corner and happily gibber to myself.