Archive | March 2016

FO: Striped Baby Hat

Yesterday was another day where I needed a little travel project, so I grabbed the two colors of Malabrigo Rios I had left over from the Duality hats. I weighed it, compared it to the ones I’d made, and decided I just had enough left for a baby hat. I cast on 72 and knit away, and this morning I finished it off. IMG_5372 2I wasn’t sure about the skinny stripes, but my daughter said it was really pretty, so I stuck with it. I do really like how the stripes turned out at the crown. IMG_5375 2I had to improvise the decreases a couple of times, but it worked out just fine. I think it’s a fun, funky hat for a hip little kid!

Writing by Numbers

4: queries sent yesterday

8: queries sent total

1: rejection received

31: agents who rep memoir on my list. This is not a very high number. I’m sure I can find more if I keep searching, though.

10: agents who require a proposal for non-fiction queries. I confess, these are lower on my list. A proposal includes so much detailed stuff: platform, comp titles, background, expertise, why is my book different/better, table of contents with chapter summaries etc…and well, it’s not just that it’s harder than the query/synopsis stuff, but it’s also that I don’t have as much to fill out a proposal. No major platform. Expertise? Um, it’s my life. And maybe that means my manuscript won’t be accepted, and if so, I’ll deal with that. But in the meantime, I’m working on compiling all this proposal stuff and I’ll give it a shot.

3: entries I get on today’s Twitter PitMad contest! I can pitch my book 3 times, and if an agent likes/retweets it, they want me to query them. Fingers crossed. Here was my first entry from this morning: SAHM finds new life in retail management, deals with theft, lies & drunkenness until illness forces her to check priorities.

4: library books I checked out yesterday. I got Stephen King’s On Writing, which I can’t believe I haven’t read yet, and Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking, which is supposed to be a fantastic memoir. Also got two YA novels for fun.

0: new completed knitting projects. But I’ve been working on my Moonstone Wrap, and I’ve used up the first two skeins and am on the second pair, so it should be done just in time for warm weather to be here, haha! IMG_5516For those celebrating today, have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s day!

Memoir or Novel?

It’s voting day here in Missouri and you can bet I’ll be out there doing my part! I hope all my fellow voters today do the same. Now, maybe I should have a more patriotic project to show off today, but all I’ve got is the completed green hat. Good enough for March, I think. IMG_5509IMG_5510Pattern is Duality, yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Lettuce. I’ve got enough leftover of it and the teal that I really want to make a striped version now.

Confession time: I didn’t get my two queries done yesterday. Somehow I got stuck in a self-defeating mood, convinced that I’m wasting my time trying to sell this memoir that no one will want to read. And I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve written other stuff too. I’ve got two completed novels in my files. So I thought about how I never did anything with those, and how the one I’m currently revising is surely trite and common. Then I thought about how I’m still struggling to build my Etsy business, and my proofreading client base, and suddenly it hit me that I’m trying all these things and none of them are working out the way I want them to. And bam, before you know it, my head is in a not-so-good place.

Therefore, I spent much of the day outside with the puppies instead. It was a beautiful day, so I don’t consider it time wasted. I’ll consider it a mental health day.IMG_5507

I soaked up sunshine and puppy loving and the smell of spring flowers. I wrote in my journal, and I knit on my hat.

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And today is a better day. Nope, I’m not giving up yet! I may still be unconvinced about my memoir but I’m going to work on revising my synopsis and query letter and then contact more agents. But I’m also pondering the idea of fictionalizing it, if this doesn’t work out. There are a few benefits to that route: I get more flexibility and freedom in storytelling, there’s no legal/liability issue from using the real company’s name, fiction is simpler to query (no lengthy, complex proposals), more agents rep fiction than memoir, and fiction is more marketable. But my concern is whether I would lose the heart of the story by making it fiction. Maybe part of its appeal is that it’s honest and true, and if it were a novel, it wouldn’t be as relatable.

What do you think, readers out there? Do you like non-celebrity memoirs? Do you seek them out? What draws you to them?

Here’s Grace’s opinion. Make of it what you will. IMG_5506

Don’t forget to vote, whenever it’s your turn! Every single vote counts!

Boring Wrap, Green Hat

My Manos Maxima wrap is going swimmingly. I made lots of progress yesterday while I watched a movie on a wet, gray day.IMG_5502But then…I kind of got bored with it. It is a really simple pattern, after all, mostly just stockinette. (This is why I think I will never be able to make a sweater.) So I had to set it aside and do something more interesting for a while, like cast on for a new Duality hat in a pretty green Malabrigo Rios. IMG_5501This is what I got done during our viewing of Apollo 13, and there were several spots I had to stop knitting and just watch. It’s just such a good movie, you know? Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise are so good, and Ed Harris is a bit attractive, and it’s all suspenseful and funny and stuff. So yeah, it was a good Sunday. Jack agrees; he appreciated being able to rest after all the excitement of the birthday party. IMG_5497This morning I was resting on my couch with a cup of tea, appreciating the view of the magnolia tree in my front yard. We had one at the house where I grew up, so this is a lovely reminder, plus it’s just a gorgeous tree. IMG_5500I can see it from the window of my craft room too, where I sit at my desk. Just another reason why I love this house. Maybe it will inspire me today as I get back to work on query letters. I got my first rejection yesterday, a very kind form rejection, and it’s fine. I’m expecting plenty of those. I’ve got lots more agents to query, and I still haven’t searched through the new Manuscript Wishlist website yet. I think my goal will be to send out two more queries today; that seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

I hope your Monday is productive as well!

Yarn Store Trickery

Funny story: so you know I went to my LYS recently, twice in two days actually. The first time, I noticed a gorgeous gradient wrap. They had two samples knit up in different colors. The second time, I asked about it, wanting the pattern. The owner said oh yes, it’s a free pattern with the purchase of the yarn…four colors at $30 a skein! Um, wow. I said that was out of my price range for now and thanked her, and she said, “Sure, and you know it’s here later.” Sure, okay. I almost asked if she’d sell me just the pattern, but figured she would have offered if it was an option.

I’m glad I didn’t, too: I went home and out of curiosity did a search on Ravelry. I found the exact same pattern…AND IT’S FREE. It’s a FREE PATTERN. I’m a little irritated. I understand kits, I understand paid patterns, and I’ve even bought yarn to get the pattern and be able to replicate a shop’s sample. (In that instance, the pattern was written by one of the shop’s employee and isn’t even available on Ravelry.) But when it’s distributed for free on Ravelry, it irks me that they’d want me to shell out $120 for it. And for the record, I spent $30 the first day and $50 the second, so it’s not like she wasn’t getting any money out of me.

So if you’re interested, check out the Pradera Wrap by Jocelyn Tunney. It’s stunning, and she’s got so many other equally beautiful patterns on her page on Ravelry. I’ve made her Picholine Hat and Springtime Picholine Hat, and I’ve got several others in mind.

In related news, yes, I did get to do some knitting yesterday. Here’s the start of my Moonstone Wrap. I started with size 17 needles and it was too loose, so I frogged and cast on 175 stitches on size 15s. I love it already. Can’t wait until it’s done, and I don’t think it’ll take too long. IMG_5490The party went well, though I did keep Jack on the leash for the first hour or so until he adjusted to having so many strangers around. He did keep my baby nephew happy: the baby laughed every time Jack barked, which was a lot. Once I let him off the leash, he did really well. He and Grace both followed me around, settling in wherever I did. IMG_5485My mom noticed and asked if they loved anyone else as much as they love me. Don’t tell my kids, but I don’t think so. They’re both my babies, even if I do have a favorite!

Now, I’m off to knit my quiet Sunday away. I must take advantage of the time I have, since I lost an hour today!

New Yarn. Again.

I blame it on my friend. She was going to the yarn store near me and asked if I wanted to meet her there. Well, I didn’t want to risk hurting her feelings, and I do enjoy seeing her, so it was a risk I had to take. Then, the silly yarn store worked against me by putting one of my favorite yarns on sale, 50% off! It’s Manos del Uruguay Maxima, and they even had my favorite purple shade. I knew I had two at home, so I grabbed two more with the plan of making Purl Soho’s Moonstone Wrap, holding the Maxima double. IMG_5475They also had a beautiful Herb green so I grabbed a couple of those. I mean, you have to get it when the price is this good, right? IMG_5478Now, I want you to look at the yarn below the green. It is the exact same yarn as the yarns on the right side of the green. Same color way and everything. COMPLETELY different. That’s the Maxima I was planning to use for the wrap, and having one skein so different would not work at all. I had to go back to the yarn store. Had to. No other option. Plus, the owner had mentioned they were having a yarn tasting, and that sounded fun.

So I went back this morning. The yarn tasting was actually nothing exciting, just a trunk show of new Shibui yarns, which are beautiful but more expensive than I wanted, and none of them called my name anyway. But this Berroco Fiora did, in a big way. I kept coming back to this pewter color, and ended up taking two home. IMG_5477I’ve also had the urge to make something with brown and teal, so when I saw these colors in the Fiora, they ended up in my arms too. IMG_5476It’s an interesting blend of fibers: 40% cotton, 30% viscose, 15% alpaca, 10% nylon and 5% wool, and it’s 246 yards of DK weight. The two together should make a lovely lightweight scarf; I just need to find the right pattern. But it’ll be after I do the Moonstone. That’s my next project, and I’ll be casting on this morning.

I have no knitting to show you. Today is the girl’s birthday party so I spent ALL DAY yesterday cleaning. It was horrible. But now the house is as good as it’s going to get (can you believe it’s raining? I clean the floors and of course it starts raining) and I’m going to take a couple of hours to relax with my yarn before all the people show up at my house. I just hope the puppies behave themselves. Jack has a habit of being a bit of a jerk to visitors sometimes, and not all of our guests are comfortable with dogs. I’d put him outside but he freaks out and claws the heck out of the door and barks non-stop, so that’s not a good option. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just get the vacuum back out. He loves that! IMG_5469

Enjoy your weekend, friends!

It’s MSWL Day!

I am in a bit of a knitting lull, friends. This week has kept me busy and distracted enough that there’s just not a lot of yarn stuff going on. I did have some yesterday during flute lesson, and I cast on for something new because I’m so bored with all my current WIPs. I’ve got a blanket, a wrap, a scarf I’m not sure I’m liking, and the Because I Love You Wrap which is waiting to be cast on yet again. None of those sound like fun car knitting, do they? No, they do not. Ergo, a hat. IMG_5464It’s another Lace Ribbon Slouch hat like this aqua one, only this time in white cotton. I also went down in needle size, to 5s and 7s, since the first hat was a bit large.

Today is errand-free, so you’d think I’d have lots of knitting time, but it’s also #MSWL day on Twitter! That stands for manuscript wish list, and it’s when agents/editors post what kind of projects they’re looking for. It’s a fantastic resource for writers like me, looking for an agent, so I’ll be keeping track of that throughout the day and working on my queries at the same time.

My biggest struggle with MSWL is that memoir is a really difficult genre to break into (unless you’re a celebrity) so there’s very few MSWL requests for it. Many agents seem resistant to memoirs, many only want authors with an established platform, and those that do take on memoirs are *extremely* selective. With good reason, I’m sure: memoir isn’t a hot seller the same way commercial fiction, YA, or thrillers are, so the writing/premise/hook etc all have to be top-notch.

But there are memoir readers out there like me, who like reading memoirs by ordinary people. I know there’s at least one, because this article from bookriot.com popped up in my Facebook feed the other day, and it was the absolute perfect boost I needed. It’s called What Makes You Pick Up a Memoir, and this last bit summed up my thoughts exactly:

“I think people read memoirs by “non-famous” people to get a glimpse into someone else’s life. Readers, by nature, are curious people. What better way to satisfy that curiosity than losing yourself in someone else’s story for 200 pages? We read memoir for connection, to feel less alone, to know that someone else out there has struggled with something similar and lived to tell the tale. We read it for entertainment (I never laugh out loud at books, but Tina Fey’s Bossypants changed that), we read it for hope.”

SEE? Isn’t that awesome? That’s me. That’s my audience, people like her. So this is my hope: that my story is interesting and written well enough to engage the right agent/editor so I can get my book into her hands!

Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods so everything is sunny and bright and optimistic. The puppies are full of spring fever and spend most of the morning romping outside before coming in and passing out like this. IMG_5441As much as I like to watch them play, I do love them when they’re all sleepy and peaceful.