I want to write a post about the terrific time I had at the Rainforest Writer's Retreat last week--and I will. I promise! But first, the Octopus. So, when Patrick Swenson invited me to the Rainforest Writer's Retreat, my email was added to the group's loop. A few people started talking about the mysterious--and endangered--Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus whose major predator is Sasquatch. At the same time, I was asked if I might want to donate a prize to the raffle. Right then and there, I knew I'd have to knit a Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus as a giveaway prize. But how to do it? I'd never knitted one of the rare beasties before, and they are notoriously shy creatures. Luckily, I found this adorable Knitting Octopus pattern by Max Alexander. I was tempted to give him a fancy top hat, but this was an Octopus from the forests of the Pacific Northwest. He needed a beanie and a big cup of coffee. Since he was going to be found at a writer's retreat, I thought he might also have his laptop and editing pencil handy. Thus began the knitting. Our friendly little octopus wasn't always so friendly looking. Brace yourself for some disturbing photos: Here is his eye, strung out between metal needles! Here is his boneless body, hanging out with the tiny anarchy chicken with a sword. Spooky, right? But I knew I could knit the spook out of him. I knitted some accessories. First, a pencil: Then a wee little laptop: Then a cup of coffee: After a hat, some eyes, and some TLC, he finally came together. And here he is, Gallelego Pete, the first Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus in captivity: He has fully poseable tentacles and all of his accessories can be removed. He lived on my cabin mantel at the retreat, waiting for someone to pick him as their prize. I am SO pleased to say he was snatched up by fellow writer Maggie Croft, who also wrote more words than any of the rest of us during our session. I have been assured he will be in good company with other writerly-crafted creatures that currently abide in her home. Happily ever after.
Writing: If you've been following along, you know that copy edits for HOUSE IMMORTAL were due last Wednesday. I tore through the entire book in Word, marking and changing as I went, and then I printed the book out and read through it a second time, hand-marking changes, which I then input into the document. I am happy to say that I turned the copy edits in on time! Yay! This is the book that will come out in September. Since it is the start of a new series, I am both excited and nervous about it. HOUSE IMMORTAL is lighter in tone than the Broken Magic series. I think it leans closer to the tone of the Allie Beckstrom books, but with a quirky sort of slant to it. It's been great fun to write, and I sure hope readers will enjoy it. I am currently outlining/scene sketching book #3 in the trilogy. Tomorrow, I'll dive in and start writing even if I'm unsure of exactly where I'm headed. Deadlines, people. Deadlines. Other stuff: The garden is in, although I had to replant zucchini and carrots. I still need to put in garlic and potatoes, and probably spinach, but there's still time for that. I have also sprayed ten gallons of weed killer around the edges of the yard to combat the ivy and blackberries. Not sure that it did much good...I see another round of poison and a machete in my future. We're doing a home-improvement project that has me sorting through a lot of junk and clutter in the basement. I love having a cleaner more organized space, but man, it takes some time and effort to get through all the sorting, throwing, and recycling. By the end of the project (which will likely take months) we're hoping for a fully organized, functional basement. Random Crafting: Speaking of organizing...Sunday, I threw together a jewelry holder in about an hour using the old frame from our bathroom vanity, a spare lace curtain, some paint, string and a staple gun. Really easy, pretty cute, and a good way to keep the tangles outta my bangles. Plus it turned out to be a fine little organization project using the things we already had on hand. *win*
I always say I will shop, clean, decorate, bake, make, and otherwise indulge in holiday joy early every year. Did I get everything done early this year? Not even close. My son, the smart guy that he is, went "first minute shopping" as he called it, and got gifts taken care of in the first week of December. I, on the other hand, was strolling the shops on Christmas eve morning. (Side note: a shop keeper saw me staring longingly at a $700 Victrola and offered to wind it up and play it for me. He and I stood there and enjoyed the music for several minutes. It was lovely. 🙂 ) But before I lead you to think I got nothing done, that isn't the case. I handmade twenty-seven gifts this year, shopped, baked, decorated, cooked the big meal, and hosted breakfast for 47. During this, I also turned in a set of proofs, brainstormed revisions on a novel due in about a month, sent out my first newsletter, and knitted that wizard's hat I posted the other day. It has been a wonderful whirlwind of work and play, and I've enjoyed every second of it. If you missed the newsletter, I will be posting the exclusive snippet from STONE COLD here on the blog in a couple days. Also, you can click here to read the free Shame and Terric short story (and don't forget to enter the contests for free stuff!) The other newsletter content will also be posted here on the blog over the next week or so. If you signed up for the newsletter, thank you, and I hope you enjoyed it! The gifts I handmade this year were wooden tea or trinket boxes that I covered in pretty paper and Modge Podged for the women folk: I also made wool dryer balls. I forgot to get pictures of these, but I hand-wound over three miles of yarn into balls. Then I felted them all, which made them dense. You put the felted balls of yarn in your clothes dryer to help separate laundry so it dries faster. I made some for myself first to see if it worked, and it does! The last thing I made was this knitted Viking hat for my nephew. I cast on Sunday and had it done by the wee hours of Wednesday morning. As you can see from the picture, we both agree that it's a mighty hat, perfect for a mighty warrior!
This:In case you missed it on Twitter and Facebook, I just finished my first felting project! I used stash wool, but some of the yarn wasn't 100% wool so not everything felted. Oops! However, I still kind of adore this patchwork Wizard's hat: Specifics: I used Anne Carroll Glimour's "The Enchanting and Magical Witch Hat" pattern, on size US 11 needles with worsted weight yarn. I knit the adult non-slouchy hat, but added an extra row after each decrease.
That:I just turned in proofs for TIN SWIFT, book #2 of the Age of Steam series. What's that, you say? You thought TIN SWIFT came out a couple years ago? You are correct, it did! However, my awesome publisher is releasing it in paperback format (smaller, cheaper!) and I had a chance to fix a couple typos. Yay! You should see TIN SWIFT in paperback format this June, which means you will be able to get both DEAD IRON (book #1) and TIN SWIFT (book #2) in paperback. Next up on my writing plate is to go through proofs for STONE COLD. These are due back on the New Year, which means STONE COLD will be out in stores on April 1st 2014. Proofs, by the way, are the last chance I get to see the book and to catch typos, extra spaces, and etc.. At this stage I'm not allowed to revise or rewrite anything. It's just a last pass where I (and a second proofreader) attempt to comb out those rascally extra periods and typos.
Other Things:1. My newsletter will be going out this weekend! This first newsletter has an exclusive excerpt from STONE COLD, a free Shame and Terric short story, a knitting thing, a new book announcement, and other fun stuff. Subscription button is on the side bar of my web page. 2. I am hand making some gifts this holiday season. I'd love to show you what I'm working on, but can't share the projects until after I give them since I know a couple of my gift-receivers read this. (I see you hiding over there behind that fake mustache). 3. I also hope to squeeze in some relaxing holiday reading before the new year but haven't decided what to read yet. Decisions, decisions. Anyone else snuggling up with a good book? What are you reading that you're loving on?
I took half a day off last week and went out yarn shopping with my sister. We found the yarn we wanted, but then we also found something amazing. This fabric: That is some awesome kitsch right there! I couldn't resist buying a half yard of it, especially when the lady at the counter told me they'd just pulled it off the truck that day and mine was the first cut off of the bolt. I have NO idea what I should make with it yet...maybe a book bag, or a pillow cover, or a box to hold awesome things, but when I decide what it will be, I will share. In the meantime, I also found fabric for a project I've had in mind since October. Remember when I said I bought a pair of boots at the thrift store that were ugly/cute and possibly blood stained, but cheap and comfortable? Well, these are those boots: I love the shape of them! Love the adorable kitten heel and pointed toe. I even love the lace-up-the-front thing, but they are so ugly roller-derby meets Pepto-Bismol. So I decided they would be an excellent steampunk boot if I figured out how to cover them in fabric. I got busy learning how to use Mod-podge to recover shoes. My first project was this pair of old flats I've had for years: It worked wonderfully! I used regular Mod-Podge, sprayed them with waterproofing, and ran a line of flexible glue along the seams just in case. So far, they've held up to the rain. Encouraged by this outcome, I'm moving on to the boots. Here's the fabric I've chosen: It might be hard to see, but it is old French labels and stamps and such. My camera didn't quite do it justice, as the fabric is a little more "yellowed" than this picture. Still...it's just what I was hoping for. This time I'm using "Outdoor" Mod-Podge and it seems to be working fine. So far I've only covered one panel of the boot and haven't trimmed anything or really made it pretty....but here, I'll show you the beginning of the project. Ooo-la-la! No more blood stain! What do you think? Too crazy or almost-cute? I'll be sure to update on my progress, but right now, there's a book that needs revising!