Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tuesday Book Not-a-review

I've had a short story accepted in an anthology to benefit Special Olympics. Here's the cover:

My story's called A Woman Hobbles Into a Bar.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Knitting Blog 2-24-19

Last weekend, I traveled to Winslow, Arizona by train with sixty or so fellow knitters for a long weekend of knitting workshops. It was the second annual trip sponsored by the Yarn Shop of Knob Hill section of Albuquerque. I attended five classes and learned many new techniques.

Although I’d made a brioche scarf before, I learned a new way to cast on the two colors.

I’d never done intralac before, but I learned that skill too.


I tried knitting two socks on two circular needles; whether or not I ever use that skill, I don’t know. I will use what I learned about stranded swatching.

Once more we stayed at La Posada, a former Harvey House stop for the railroad. It’s been restored to an elegant hotel. The Turquoise Room restaurant serves locally sourced vegetables, meats and fruits that are delicious. It snowed Sunday morning. This was the view from our room.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

I'll be at a knitting retreat next weekend, so there won't be a blog post on Friday or Sunday, but I'll be gathering info for many more knitting blogs and pictures too.

Here's my latest book review:

Straying from the Path

5 Star review of Straying from the Path by Charity Tahmaseb

Excellent anthology of retellings of famous fairy tales. I liked the last novella-length one based on Goldilocks and the Three Bears the best and hope she writes a sequel to How Goldi Lost Her Locks. Each story is quite a departure from the original. As the synopsis says: “Anything can happen when you stray from the path. These are not your mother’s fairy tales.” In most of the stories, the main female character is strong, much stronger than their counterpart in the original stories. I read several of Tahmaseb’s Coffee and Ghosts stories and expecting good pieces; I wasn’t disappointed at all. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

Next weekend, I'm off to a knitting retreat in Winslow, Arizona. We were asked to bring certain weights of wool with us for the different classes and workshops. It was difficult to determine the specific weights of any yarn I had in my stash, but the following chart helped. 

Standard Yarn Weight System

Downloads of these graphic symbols are available at no charge. We ask that if you use them in any publication that you advise us in an e-mail of your intention to use them and that the following credit line be given at least once in the document: Source: Craft Yarn Council's www.YarnStandards.com

Yarn Weight Symbol
& Category Names
lacesuper finefinelightmediumbulky

Type of
Yarns in
Sock, Fingering, BabySport,

Knit Gauge
Range* in
Stitch to 4 inches

Needle in
Metric Size

Needle U.S.
Size Range
000–11 to 33 to 55 to 77 to 99 to 11
Crochet Gauge*
Ranges in
Single Crochet
to 4 inch

Hook in Metric
Size Range
Regular hook
2.25 mm

Hook U.S.
Size Range
6, 7, 8
hook B–1
K–10 1⁄2
K–10 1⁄2 to

* GUIDELINES ONLY: The above reflect the most commonly used gauges and needle or hook sizes for specific 
yarn categories.
** Lace weight yarns are usually knitted or crocheted on larger needles and hooks to create lacy, openwork 
patterns. Accordingly, a gauge range is difficult to determine. Always follow the gauge stated in your pattern.
*** Steel crochet hooks are sized differently from regular hooks—the higher the number, the smaller the hook,
 which is the reverse of regular hook sizing

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tuesday Book Review

Tales From Alternate Earths by Jessica Holmes

Five star review of Tales from Alternate Earths, an anthology of short stories by various authors

An anthology from Inkling Press of eight alternate history stories. How did time travel cause the extinction of the dinosaurs? What if China had converted to Islam and sailed eastward, reaching South America? What if London had been bombed? Each story is a fast read, some more fun than others. Most have surprising endings. I enjoyed every one.

The Edge of Ruin by Melinda M. Snodgrass

Four star review of The Edge of Ruin by Melinda Snodgrass

I don’t often read supernatural stories because I don’t like the blood and mayhem, but I won this in a raffle. This is as much a story of a young man’s journey from being put down by his father for his interests and leanings, to being the head of a multinational corporation and a paladin who stands against the Old Ones. These gods from another dimension have come through rifts in the boundary between worlds in the past and threaten to again. But Richard Oortt holds the sword that can cast out magic, fend off non-humans and close the rift. Well-written with great character development, I enjoyed this.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Sunday Knitting Blog

Once more, curtesy of the The Yarn Store at Nob Hill newsletter:

Sheep in New Mexico, Part 3

What does the future hold?

by Karen Christensen

Numbers of sheep in New Mexico have gone from 5 million in 1880 to 900,000 in 1964 to 90,000 in 2012. Goodness, why such a dramatic drop!
Many factors have contributed to the decline of sheep in the state with drought and predators such as coyotes and bobcats being the major ones.
Droughts have been the largest detriment in increasing the sheep population in the state – without rain we do not have the grass the animals need to graze on to thrive and produce.
In recent years there have been several successful attempts to bring sheep and the wool industry back to New Mexico. Ranchers and farmers are learning or relearning new techniques to increase their flocks.
Ranchers and farmers are having to acclimate their breeds to our climate and landscape. Shepherds have found that Rambouillet and the Navajo-Churro do well in our state.

The Rambouillet are excellent wool producers and tend to flock naturally allowing for better flock management in mountain terrains. Rambouillet are often crossbred with the Corriedale and Lincoln breeds which produces Targhee wool – will Brooklyn Tweed be sourcing wool from New Mexico soon? Navajo-Churro, as discussed in the previous articles, have been brought back from almost extinction and their wool is primarily used by the Navajos in their traditional rugs and wares.
Many ranchers and farmers in New Mexico are using open range techniques to overcome the drought conditions in the state. Flocks are moved from pastures to mountain ranges during various times of the year to enable the animals to thrive.
Predators have had an impact on increasing the population of sheep in the state. Fencing was the most popular technique in keeping predators away from the flocks. When the wool industry declined in New Mexico, many miles/acres of fencing went into disrepair. Shepherds are now repairing miles and miles fences, a backbreaking and relentless job to keep those predators away from their flocks.
Flocks are slowly increasing with these new methods, and we as a community must support these family ranches and farms. There are many in our area. Let's support them and support our state's economy.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday interview

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Simon Williams. Today we catch up with the author of Summer's Dark Waters and the Aona series, which now has new covers:

Oblivion's Forge (Aona series Book 1)

 1.Tell me about your latest novel.

The latest completed and published work is The Light From Far Below, which is the sequel to my YA fantasy Summer’s Dark Waters. Events have moved on quite a bit as it’s set almost a year and a half after the events in the first book. Without giving away any spoilers, it’s also wider in scope and even brings in contemporary issues such as how social media has effectively opened the gates of hell in terms of human behaviour. It’s as cheerful as you’d expect from me!

Summer's Dark Waters

2. What are you currently reading?

Rebellion” by Ian Irvine – dark, brutal and intense and (like all his works) has a refreshingly different spin on the fantasy genre.

3. How do you pick character names?

It takes a while and can be quite a frustrating process, but basically I mess around with sounds and syllables and eventually I come up with something that I feel works for that character. The name has to “match” the character in my head so it can take a while until I’m satisfied with the name.

4. How does your latest story differ from your other novels?

In terms of the one I’m working on at the moment (ok, I’m working on several books at the moment but this is the one which is most advanced), this one is very different in all sorts of ways. (1) It’s a standalone novel (2) There are considerably fewer characters than in the Aona books – this story follows four very different characters (3) While it has a lot of elements of dark fantasy as you might expect, there are other genres in the mix – industrial horror, detective noir, steampunk… so it might be difficult to place in any one genre. So it’s a different challenge in all sorts of ways.

5. Are you working with an agent or publisher?

My publisher (for the paperback editions of my books) is Completely Novel. I’ve always been impressed with the quality of the paperbacks they produce. The Kindle editions are with Amazon (obviously!)

6. What social media do you use to spread awareness of your work?

I *try* to use Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and have recently also set up an Instagram account, although the difficult thing with Instagram seems to be (for me anyway) trying to think of pictures to post now that I’ve posted my individual book covers and also all of them together. I’ve managed to post some which have an “appropriate” look and feel, in other words they fit with my “brand” but it’s difficult sometimes.
Facebook I use quite a lot although it seems to be mainly interacting with people who are already fans – so it’s great for telling people about new releases, updates etc.
Goodreads I use mainly for posting blogs every now and then, and checking for latest reviews of my books. They seem to be very strict about authors so much as mentioning their own works though, so these days I tend not to message people directly on that platform- so consequently it isn’t as much use as it could be.
And Twitter… I have bouts of Twitter use, and I’ve made a list of all the “right things to do” on Twitter – retweeting other people, making nice comments, not directly messaging people, making sure I only post about my own works something like 15% of the time… but it doesn’t seem to really work for me, not so far anyway. I don’t think I’ve made any direct sales on Twitter. Apparently it’s supposed to be more about building relationships, but maybe I’m just not very good at that, as I’ve tried doing all the right things but found that people aren’t that interested. It’s odd because other platforms have worked a lot better for me.

7. If you had unlimited funds, how would you advertise your work?

I’d probably take out wrap-around ads in every national newspaper and a load of major websites and see what happens. Sadly though, my funds are very limited indeed.

8. Have you sold your work at book fairs or conventions? What kind of experience did you have?

An author friend currently has some copies of my books for his book stall (Hi Nils!) and that’s about the closest I’ve come to selling at book fairs and conventions. I haven’t attended conventions partly because of the travel and hotel costs, but also because I don’t really come across well in person (and quite often come across as boring) and I know that the idea of trying to directly sell my books just wouldn’t work for me.

9. What would you tell beginning writers?

Ask yourself if you really enjoy what you’re doing. If you do, then keep doing it. If not, then don’t. And whatever you do, don’t even think about trying to make serious money from writing. If you do end up making serious money, well then great – you’re very, very lucky. If not, then so be it. Try to keep a philosophical attitude to it all, and above all, if you don’t enjoy writing any more, don’t put yourself through it.

10. Which do you find hardest: coming up with a story idea, writing, revising, or marketing?

Marketing is by far the hardest, because it isn’t something that comes naturally to me. It means having to do the hard work of selling my books, and convincing people that they should buy and read them. Because I have no contacts to speak of in the real world, that makes it much more difficult than it would for someone who’s lucky enough to have loads of contacts or who has loads of money to spend on marketing and advertising.

11. What are the hardest kinds of scenes for you to write? Romantic? Sex? The death of a character? Fight scenes? Others?

The trickiest ones are sex scenes, partly because I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to that subject, but also because all too often they come across as ridiculous, without serious re-writing and re-re-writing. Luckily I don’t tend to have many such scenes in my books.