But First, the Octopus

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!

eyeball on 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.

Octopus 1

I knitted some accessories.  First, a pencil:

knit pencil 1

Then a wee little laptop:

knit laptop1

Then a cup of coffee:

knit cup 1

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:

knit Gallelego Pete 1

knit Gallelego Pete 2

knit Gallelego Pete 3

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.

octopus 2

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.

House Immortal – Giveaways!

The first book in my new fantasy series, HOUSE IMMORTAL is out today! *yay!* *throws confetti!*

HOUSE IMMORTAL is getting some great reviews. Thank you, readers and reviewers–you rock so much!

Check out what these excellent people have to say about it:

Book Briefs + Giveaway of House Immortal

Bookworm Blues

Kindle Obsessed + Giveaway of House Immortal

RT Book Reviews 4.5 stars, Top Pick!

Since it’s release day, I thought it would be fun to do a giveaway via my newsletter to celebrate. If you aren’t signed up for my newsletter, it’s really easy. Just scroll over to the sidebar on my webpage and hit the “subscribe” button under “Subscribe To Newsletter”.

My newsletters go out quarterly. I never share email addresses with any person or company so you won’t be spammed, I promise.  I always add a little extra somethin’-somethin’ in the newsletters that won’t be found anywhere else, so I do think you’ll get something out of them even if you follow me on other social media sites. :)

All right then…the giveaway:

I am giving away three (3) signed copies of HOUSE IMMORTAL to three newsletter subscribers. On Friday, September 5th, I will fire up the random number generator and choose three winners. I will contact those winners via email, and I will mail internationally!

But wait…there’s more! I’m also giving away these one-of-a-kind, fingerless gloves originally designed and knit by me. I call them: Matilda Gloves

Matilda gloves 2Matilda gloves 1

Matilda Case is the main character in HOUSE IMMORTAL and I thought she might have a nice pair of fingerless gloves to wear on chilly mornings. Of course they’d be in House Brown colors and have a nice “stitched” or “Frankenstein” feel to them. (I also think they’d make nice a steampunk accessory.)

100% wool, and very, very soft (not itchy at all). Accented with pewter cube starburst beads.

On September 5th, I will also pull a random winner from my newsletter subscriber list and will contact them via email. I will mail internationally.

Thank you all for reading and following and reviewing and commenting and just being the amazing, awesome people you are. I hope you enjoy House Immortal if you decide to give it a try.

Stone Cold is Out! + Free Stuff

Stone Cold final 500

STONE COLD is officially out today!  This is book #2 in the Broken Magic series, and I am so excited to share it with you all! *cue the confetti!*

If you’d like read some reviews of STONE COLD and interviews with me, check out these blogs that are giving away copies of STONE COLD: here, here, here, and here.

My Newsletter is chock full of good stuff this month!  I am giving away a signed copy of HELL BENT and STONE COLD to one lucky subscriber. You can sign up right here on the sidebar of my blog if you’d like to receive the newsletter.  The newsletter is a quarterly thing, and I keep it fun, share some behind-the-scenes goodies, and offer up a free treat or two.

Which brings me to this.  There’s one more thing I’ll be giving away to a lucky newsletter subscriber. This guy:

teeny stone 1

teeny Stone 2

Yes! That is a teeny-tiny Stone the Gargoyle I designed and knit.  I’ll be picking a winner for him out of my newsletter subscriber list on Friday the 4th, so if you’d like to get in the running to own him, there’s still time to sign up!

Looking Back at 2013

Here’s how 2013 shook out for me:

Writing

Books written: 3               — Hell Bent, Stone Cold, House Immortal

Short stories written: 2   — Life Between Dreams, The Lost The Found

Books revised: 2               — Hell Bent, Stone Cold

Books copy edited: 3       — Cold Copper, Hell Bent, Stone Cold

Books proofed: 5              —Dead Iron (mmpb release), Cold Copper, Hell Bent, Tin Swift (mmpb release), Stone Cold

Other books worked on: 2

I also tried my first self epublishing and released a Kindle edition of my short story, HANG FIRE, which takes place between Dead Iron and Tin Swift in the Age of Steam series. I hope to put it out in more formats soon.

Oh! And my short story collection, A Cup of Normal is now available in eformat!

Covers of the books I worked on this year. Because: pretty!

Dead_Iron-1 jpegtin swift 200x300ColdCopper.indd

hellbent coverStone Cold final 500

Short stories I worked on:

Unnatural-Worlds-ebook-cover-webHang Fire Final 1a cup of normal ebook

This wasn’t exactly how I expected my year to unfold, and while I wish I would have fit a few other projects in that schedule, I know I was doing the best I could at the time.  Speaking of time, I took 33 days off last year.  If you work a normal 5 day a week job, you average about 104 days off in a year.

To put this another way, I got a day (or days) off in every month except January, August, September, October.

The fallout of having no days off for a three month run near the end of a busy year (Aug-Sept-Oct.) was tricky. By the time November was over (I only took 2 days off in November–Thanksgiving & the day after) I was pretty worn out, writing-wise. Luckily, December’s work was a couple of sets of proofs, a revision letter to muddle over/brainstorm through, a short story to write, and a newsletter to design/launch.  I did all that and took 8 days off in December over the holidays.

Whew!

Newsletters and Knitting

I launched my first newsletter in December, and intend to make it a quarterly thing. Thank you everyone who signed up for it! If you’d like to sign up, you can click on the link there in the sidebar of my blog. The newsletter will have excerpts, free stories, knitting patterns, news and more.

As for this year’s knitting, I think this was the year of the silly hats. I’ll let these pictures tell the tale.

Cloud light pull (not a hat!)

raincloud knit

Knight hat for nephew

knight hat me 1

knight hat me 2

Plants vs. Zombies hat for me

zombie hat 1

zombie hat 3

Patchwork wizard’s hat for son

wizard patchwork hat 2

wizard patchwork hat

Viking hat for nephew

Vikings

I also knit a pretty slouch hat for a gift, but didn’t get a picture of that one before I sent it.

This is a pretty long post, so I think I’d better wrap it up.  Next post, I’ll gaze into the future of 2014 and share news on that new book series I have coming out!

Holiday Happiness

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:

Tea boxes 1

tea boxes 2

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!

Vikings