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« January 2014 | Main | March 2014 »

4 posts from February 2014

Stitches and What it MeantFebruary 26, 2014

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Darling KnittedWit and my favorite wee thing, F. 

The thing about Stitches West is that, like all  yarn conventions, it's HUGE. The first time I ever went to one was back when it was still hosted in Oakland. My sister happened to mention she thought there was a "yarn thing" happening downtown. I thought I'd swing through and poke my head into the seven or eight booths that I'd find. 

Instead, I found hundreds of booths. Tens of thousands of skeins of yarn (I know this because I bought most of them). I learned to spin at that first Stitches, on a drop spindle made from a dowel and a CD (I was terrible at it). 

I had no idea there was so much yarn in all the world, and there it was, in my town, in a convention center. 

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Knitmores! I haz them! 

Fast forward to 2010. My first book was coming out TWO DAYS AFTER Stitches. I'd been heartbroken about the timing, but I made flyers to pass out. Due to illness, one of my friends couldn't use her booth, and with her permission, I totally hijacked it. I had nothing but flyers, so I laid them on every inch of table. I passed them out to everyone I saw. 

 From my blog post, I'm reminded I got a lot of differing reactions, including this one: 

Knitter, looking at the back of the excerpt, where my picture is: "Oh, I know her. She's from LA."

Me: "I'm from Oakland."

Knitter (suspiciously): "Hmm." 

But people took them, and people bought the book that Tuesday in March, 2010. 

I know this because I saw them all last weekend, four years later. I can't tell you how many people said to me, "Oh! I love your books!" Or "I met you when you didn't even HAVE a book, just those flyers!" 

There is nothing as gratifying as hearing "I love your books." Nothing. I daresay the words "What a gorgeous child" don't compare. It's possible that the phrase "Your child is a genius" pales next to "When are you going to write another book like that one?" 

I came home all three nights completely exhausted, worn out to the bone. I perched for the weekend at the Verb booth (next to the amazing Romi) and seriously, while I wasn't tied to the booth in any way, I spent most of my time there. I was desperately scared I wouldn't be there if a reader wanted to say hello. 

A READER. That's the thing, dude. I have readers. Of my books

Pinch me. Hard. Four years and six books later, it's still not real. 

The most interesting interaction I had this weekend:

A woman approached me at a high rate of speed. She dropped into a crouch next to me. "You write books." 

"I do, yes." 

"So how do I finish the two novels I've started?" 

"You write, and keep writing till the end. It's not easy to finish, but I know you can--" 

"How do I make them good enough to publish?" 

"You revise. I have a blog post that might be helpful…" 

"No, no. I don't have time for that." 

"I hear you. I work 60 hours a week at my day job…" 

A raised eyebrow. "What do you do?" 

"911." 

A flap of the hands. "Oh, well, yeah. My problem is that I have an INTELLECTUAL job. That's why I can't finish my books." 

What I didn't say was that after I got my MFA and found out that I sucked at teaching, I sat my ass down (literally, at a burger joint) and flipped through a trade journal looking for a job that wouldn't tax my creative brain. The writer friends of mine who were teaching or tech-writing weren't doing their own writing anymore. I picked 911 (not knowing then how creative you have to be on a second-to-second basis) in order to have a job I could leave behind when I took off the headset. 

Maybe this woman couldn't leave her intellectual work behind her when she got home. I could give her that with a smile. 

But the interaction made me realize something: I'd chosen the right path. I'd made a really long-range goal (get a day job that will pay for the writing habit) and I'd pulled it off. Fifteen years after that decision, I was at a convention, talking to my readers. MY READERS. That woman, as much as I laughed when she walked away, did me a huge favor by reminding me of that. 

 I haven't "made it." In my mind, I won't have made it until I'm making enough money writing that I can give up the day job (but giving up the chance to save lives? How does a person really give that up?). And if that someday happens, I'm sure I'll have a new goal that will equal "making it." I hope so, anyway. 

Because a girl has to have a dream. And I have so many.

Bonus for reading this far: Lucky and Clara video! 

I love how absolutely delighted Clara looks. LOOK! This chihuahua plays with ME! (You can see Miss Idaho looking on in disgust in the background.) Lucky goes back to his forever home tomorrow, and I'm going to MISS that little bugger. He's an absolute delight.  

*And yes, I bought some yarn this year, though I managed not to for most of the three days. Right at the last minute, 25 minutes before the closing bell, I fell down and swiped my debit card on my way to the floor which was padded with cashmere so I didn't really hurt anything but my budget. I have no pictures of the evidence, but I'm telling you: the find of the year was Sweet Fiber. I can't tell you how awesome this is. People. Go buy this stuff. Right now. So soft. The colors, so saturated. Damn. AMAZING. 

** Also, I hired an author's assistant to pick up the pieces I tend to drop. She's a knitter, and has been a friend for years. I'd tell you who she is, but then you might take her from me. DON'T DO THAT. Oh, okay, I'll tell you. It's FishWithSticks. She's already shining up my life, for reals. I feel so FANCY. 

*** T-minus-6 days till Pack Up the Moon. *eep*

Lucky Greg Update and Winner! February 18, 2014

Sorry it's been quiet 'round these parts. I'm in triage mode of launching a book and turning in a new book (to be published next year), and if it's not spurting arterial blood from my To Do list, I'm having to pass things by with longing looks.

But some things are important. You remember Lucky Greg, the chihuahua who was hit by two cars? I'm babysitting him while his adoring forever family is out of town, and OH MY GOD. For the first time, I understand the appeal of a lap dog. I kind of want this cuddly, happy, leaping, spinning crazy nutjob of a dog in my lap all the time, wherever I am. (I kind of already have two lap dogs who live here, Miss Idaho and Clementine. But Lucky is so FIERCELY cuddly.) 

The intro to the girls went as well as it could. All three of our female dogs have checked him, and the leg-humping is finally subsiding. Thank god. Kira K was over last night, and said, "I've been conditioned so long to think of a male's aggressive sexual advance as wrong that I want him to stop that! Right now!" 

Here he is, being submissive (finally) to Clementine, and what I love is Clementine's WHAT THE HELL IS THIS NOISE look. 

 

He really is the most darling boy, and he slept like a CHAMP last night in his crate. 

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(Driving home from the dentist earlier today I saw a wee dead dog at the side of the road near where I found Lucky and I was SO SAD and so angry at all the people who let their dogs run around in our busy area. We have two neighbors who let their dogs out every morning and every evening to run in the streets so they can do their business. We've talked to them--they're unwilling to walk their dogs on leashes. They told Lala, "Don't worry, they're fast." Those dogs won't last long. GRRRR SO MAD.) 

On to happier things: 

Did I mention I finished a sweater? I did. 

It's Amy Herzog's CustomFit (take your measurements, make your sweater any way you like!) and I don't have any great photos of it, but here's one I just shot, with a Clara cameo. 

Photo on 2-18-14 at 10.21 AM #4

Ravelry post HERE

Oh! Let's draw a winner for Larissa Brown's BEAUTIFUL WRECK (which you have to read - check those comments, already full of people who read it and loved it). Winner: Maureen! I've emailed you. 

And I just counted the days till PACK UP THE MOON launches.  FOURTEEN DAYS FROM NOW.

*hyperventilates* *pant* *pant*

I have a BUNCH of places I'm going to be reading, and I'm going to be at Stitches West (not with MOON, sadly, since it won't be out yet, but I'll have Cora's Heart and Eliza's Home to sign) in the Verb booth, so come grab me and give me a hug! 

BOOK TOUR 2014

With Sophie Littlefield 
Diesel Books, Oakland, CA - Book Launch Party!
Thursday March 6, 7pm  

Barnes & Noble, San Luis Obispo CA
Saturday March 8, 11am

With Sophie Littlefield and Gigi Pandian 
Read Books, Danville CA 
Thursday March 13, 7pm 

Women and Children First, Chicago IL 
Tuesday March 18, 7pm 

New Bo Books, Cedar Rapids IA 
Wednesday March 19, 7pm 

IndyReads, Indianapolis IN
Friday March 21, 7pm

The Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson OH
Saturday March 22, 1pm

Ben McNally Books, Toronto ON
Monday March 24, 6pm

Best Book I've Read in SO LONGFebruary 7, 2014

I've been dying to share this one with you, friends. It's a Viking time-travel love story, and it's AMAZING. Larrissa Brown is a knitter and a designer (especiall of lace) and she knows Iceland. This gorgeous, gorgeous book is what made me really want to go there (we will, next year!) It's stunningly well written, the plot is perfect, and the heat level--let's just say this, I haven't been dying for a first kiss like that since I was the one getting kissed. 

More than that, it's an amazing and impeccably researched look at a  community of women, and about a woman coming into herself while inside it. This was my quote for the book (I was lucky enough to read it early): “With a plot as exciting as it is bold, and with characters as real and important as family, Larissa Brown’s BEAUTIFUL WRECK weaves an intensely gripping tale about the strength of women and the love they carry. This is the story we’ve been waiting for.”

I mean it. You want to read this. 

Today (Friday) you can grab the Kindle copy for $2.99 AND get free knitting patterns with it! See THIS post for details. Tomorrow the e-book will go back to $7.99, and it's worth every damn penny. Big and long and sprawling, you'll be irritated every time you have to put it down to go back to real life. 

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I got to interview Larissa so I could share her answers with you. And hey, I get to give a copy to someone lucky in the comments below! Keep reading! 


1. Why Iceland? 

For those who are not time travel romance readers, most of them are set in Scotland and involve men in kilts. I have to be different. So I set out to find a place and time where a Viking man might settle down and fall in love. What I learned was that settlement-era Iceland had a lot going for it romance-wise. Iceland has always been a place of rugged beauty, and – in its early years – of a kind of natural abundance that does not exist today. It was culturally isolated, with lots of room for creativity about day to day life and the developing Icelandic language. It was a time when the Christian values that drive most historical romances did not hold sway. And Iceland has some key romantic elements like lots of natural hot baths and angelica flowers to make mouthwash. I’ve always had a little trouble believing in the Medieval England time travel romances, y’know?


2. I know you traveled to Iceland for research for your book - what was the most startling thing you learned that you didn't know before you went?

I was stunned by how romantic the real Viking farm felt. When I began writing this book, I knew nothing about a Viking house except that it was covered in grass. So to imagine Ginn’s place, I loosely based it on a real Viking farm that was discovered in Iceland called Stöng. Much like my character, I studied that farm on a screen, wishing I could climb inside and see the real thing. I imagined it would be a stark place, where it would take the sheer force of a thousand years of love to make anyone want to stay.

I was so wrong. When I finally did arrive there, my small group of traveling companions and I walked around and simply came upon the most romantic spot in the world – a clear pool fed by two tiny waterfalls that turned into a stream and then joined a river that extended across the farm. I thought, no matter how hard life was here, someone cared about loveliness. Placing the house right there – that was poetry.


3. You're an accomplished knitter and knitwear designer, and I love your Viking collection, My Viking Love Song, six shawls and wraps. I've found in my own novels (which include patterns) that knitting a project while writing the connected piece makes each stronger. Were you working on the patterns while also writing the book? 

Thank you for your compliments on my knitting work! Yes, I did create the book and the shawl collection at the same time. The shawls are inspired by my fictional farm, and not at all what a real person – or even one of my characters – would have worn. The designs are a second, different way of expressing some of my story’s themes. I designed and published the shawl collection as a series over about a year, and when I started, I had only a vague plan of what the six designs would be. They changed as I continued developing who Ginn is and what her farm is like.

NOW. Rush. Go buy this book. Tell me you love it, because I KNOW you will. Leave a comment below if you'd like to be entered to win a copy, too. I'll draw a winner next week! 

ONE MONTH TO GO!February 4, 2014

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS! 


I just realized it's only 4 WEEKS (just 28 days!) until PACK UP THE MOON is out! Don't forget, a preorder gets you a free signed bookplate! Email me at yarnagogo at gmail and tell me you bought it and give me your address. I'll get it right in the mail (even if you order electronically). 


Amazon: http:///TUUxzdFYX9
iBooks: https://t.co/aNvhzn9qqE
Indiebound: http://t.co/TeM7219zBb
B&N: http://t.co/SI52mrh52j

 

In other news, I'm DYING for Vietnamese or Thai food today, and specifically, I want to make it. Any ideas for a good starter recipe?