Two things

I’ve been trying to get to blogging more this year. You can see how well I’ve done so far. Snort. I should have made this two separate blog posts, released on different days, maybe even a week apart, but one they’re both timely now, and will both be late, if I don’t just get on with it. So, here goes, two things:

1. Naming contest

I’ve designed a simple little cowl based on the elegant ogee lace motif, which was no doubt inspired by centuries old architectural details.

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This beautiful stitch can be a real bugger to knit flat (ask me how I know!), but everything lines up beautifully, and simply when it is knit in the round. The yarn is the gorgeous Anzula Squishy in Black Cherry. Yum.

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The problem I’m having at this point is that of naming the design. While knitting, I kept thinking that I’d just do a little searching online, find a gorgeous old building with lovely ogees on it, and name the design after that building. What I found was that I had too many choices. I got stuck. I tried again another day. Same result. I tried again a third day, trying to limit my options a bit. Same thing. There are just too many. Do I go for European buildings, Russian, Indian? Maybe I should name it for a beautiful tile design instead. I have no idea.

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Now it’s your turn. Put on your thinking cap. Do some searches. Dig out your favorite books on architecture, or some other topic. Brainstorm. Whatever works for you. Reply to this blog post with your idea for a name for my pattern. This next part is very important: in addition to the name, I want to know why you thought of it, why this design made you think of the name you are suggesting, what inspired you. Here’s another little bit: your name and reason must be left as a comment to this blog post by the time I get up in the morning on March 16, 2015. I live in the Pacific time zone, so that should give most of you the entire weekend, plus Monday morning, or so, maybe, I do sometimes get up at 5 am, so to be certain get your idea(s) posted as a comment to this blog post sooner rather than later. Ideas left on Ravelry, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or anywhere else will not be eligible to win. To recap: winning entries will…

  • Reply to this blog post
  • Include your name suggestion
  • Include your reason for the name suggestion
  • Be posted before I get up in the morning on March 16, 2015

What do you get out of this? Well, the winning entry gets a free pdf of the pattern when I release it. If you’re on Ravelry, I’ll drop it into your Ravelry library. If not, then I’ll email a copy of it to you. Make sure your email address is correct when you make your suggestion. If I love your idea, and can’t get hold of you, you won’t get your free pattern.

2. 80 Skeins

Kimberly Golynskiy came for a brief visit a week or so ago. We talked a bit, she followed me around a bit, and she took a bunch of great photos. Check it out on Kimberly’s blog, Around the World in 80 Skeins. I’ve borrowed one of my favorite photo bits off her blog, to act as a little teaser.

Books and baskets and yarn. Oh my!

Books and baskets and yarn. Oh my!

P.S. In case you’re interested, the steamer trunk belonged to my great aunt Hilda. She was quite the globe trotter in her day, and used this when she traveled all over the world. Aunt Hilda was an inspiration. She was a college English teacher during the school year, and traveled every summer. She was fearless. From the early 1900s through the late 1960s she traveled with a friend, her sister (my grandmother), or alone, and went to exotic ports of call: India, Egypt, Fiji, Japan, various countries in South America, Australia, and extensively throughout Europe. I envy the nurses who cared for her at the end, as they got to hear fabulous stories of her journeys that I had no opportunity to learn about.

Rachel Leigh Smith on creative hobbies

Rachel Leigh Smith and I have been friends for a while now. I’m pretty sure it’s been a bit longer than the decade she admits to below. Anyway, last summer, when Rachel released her first book, My Name is A’yen, I ran right to my computer to buy it. I consumed her story with lightning speed, enjoying every minute of it. When she announced the upcoming release of the sequel, The King’s Mistress, I jumped at the chance to do a quick review of the book for her, thus earning me a preview copy of it, as well as the chance to have Rachel swing by my blog to sit a spell, to talk about hobbies, writing, her new book, and where these things coincide. Rachel’s guest post is below. You only have to put up with me for a moment longer. I promise. In King’s Mistress the story of Fae and A’yen continues. New challenges are thrown in their way, both emotional and physical, including an unplanned separation, and a new villain or two, as well as at least one notable surprise, which I’d say more about, but I don’t want to give anything away. The King’s Mistress is as nicely crafted as her first book, and just as hard to put down. Get it. Read it. Meanwhile, I’ll be here waiting for the next installment.

From Rachel

I’ve known Laura for at least a decade now, probably longer. We met on a cross-stitch message board, and when Facebook came along our friendship transferred to Facebook. I knew Laura back before she was a knitting designer. Now I’m feeling old…

Since I met Laura on a cross-stitch board, obviously I do counted cross-stitch. I can’t draw to save my life, but I can paint with thread. Counted cross-stitch is my favorite hobby, my favorite way to relax in the evenings, and a great way to let my brain chew over plot or character problems in my writing.

I also knit and crochet. For knitting I don’t really have any finishes, but I do have an almost finished sock. I’m on the toe decreases. With crocheting, I love pineapple doilies, I’ve made a three-quarter sleeve shrug for myself, and lots of gifts.

My grandmothers taught me to crochet and do counted cross-stitch. I taught myself to knit about eight years ago. But cross-stitch is what I always come back to. It’s my first love. I already have more charts acquired than I can stitch in a lifetime, but I don’t care. Part of the joy is having options and dreaming big.

Creative hobbies are an important part of my life, and it always shows up in my writing too. The first novel I wrote was a historical romance, and the heroine did embroidery and tatting. In My Name Is A’yen, A’yen told me he’s an artist.

Yes, he told me. You see, he’s real to me. As real as my parents and siblings. He’s a fully realized character living in my head and he’s become an important part of my life. Where I paint with thread, A’yen paints with watercolors.

I’ve always been envious of people who can draw and paint. I wish I could, so I could draw my characters exactly the way I see them. But alas, I can’t even draw a decent stick figure. I can color like a boss, though.

Throughout My Name Is A’yen, drawing is an important release for A’yen. He doesn’t get much of a chance to draw or paint in The King’s Mistress, though, because of everything going on. But he misses it, and he longs for the time to sit back with paper and pencil and draw the things he’s seeing. In particular he wants to paint his bodyguard’s eyes because of their unique indigo color. A real challenge for his paintbrush, as he puts it.

Throughout the A’yen’s Legacy series, hobbies continue to play a role in rounding out my characters. The hero of book four plays piano. The hero of books five and six grows orchids. I haven’t done much exploring of needle crafts, though, which is something I’d like to do. Haven’t found the right heroine for it yet I guess.

I’ve included a couple of pictures of my projects. Choosing what to send Laura was hard. My Chatelaine White Nights in St. Petersburg was an easy choice. It’s what I’m working on now and I’m almost done with it! This is the most expensive project I’ve ever done, or ever will do. But totally worth it. The fabric is 36 inches square. Yes, 36 inches.

Chatelaine White Nights in St. Petersburg

Chatelaine White Nights in St. Petersburg

I also love mermaids, and the mermaid is Mirabilia’s Queen Mermaid. My first ever finish on linen. She hangs above my desk. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Mirabilia’s Queen Mermaid

Mirabilia’s Queen Mermaid

I’d love to hear about your creative hobbies in the comments. Please share! Maybe I’ll see one I want to use in a future character.

The King’s Mistress

A’yen’s Legacy, Book Two
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Genre: Paranormal/Sci-Fi Romance
Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, iBooks, All Romance Ebooks

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Synopsis



Freedom has a cost. Can A’yen pay it without losing his soul?

Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king. A’yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But he’s not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. And his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A’yen fears for the young man’s sanity.

Upon returning to Titan, A’yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he’ll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he’ll live long enough to do it.

With A’yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.

Separated by light years, A’yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.

Excerpt


A’yen’s body stiffened, though he tried to relax to keep the burning from coming back to the point he wanted to rip his skin off. Pure, unadulterated evil moved about the house.

He held still on the bed, breathing deep, trying to get a sense of who it might be. Damn stupid pain kept him so cloudy nothing of his telepathic field worked. He missed it. A man’s voice filtered through the closed door. Not close enough to make out the words. Who would come here?

The male voice disappeared and Fae sounded like she held to her sanity by a single thread. She needed him. Now. He pulled his arms under his chest and pushed up from the bed. The room tilted. He grabbed the headboard with one hand, leaned forward, breathed deep again.

Something he’d never felt before crept into his muscles. A warmth, from outside himself. Not from Na’var either. The pain didn’t lessen, but he could move now. Slow, with deliberate care. He kept one hand on the bed, then the wall, moving toward a pair of shorts on the rocking chair. Whoever was out there didn’t need to see him without clothes.

The warmth remained, infusing him with enough strength to get the shorts on, make it to the hall and follow the voices to the living room. Pain accompanied him with every step, and if not for Fae’s need pulling him forward he’d go back to bed.

“Farran, how can you even think of keeping him? Males are more dangerous than you can imagine. I will not have you living here with someone capable of slitting your throat and running away.” Her father. His father-in-law. President of the Breeder’s Association board of directors.

“I’m thirty-two-years-old, Daddy. I think I can decide for myself how I’m going to live.”

A’yen stopped, leaning on the wall in an attempt to slow his breathing. She stood in the middle of the room, her back to him, hands clenched at her sides. Trembling.

“I’ve indulged you long enough. It’s time to come home and take your place. Without this male slave who’s obviously messed with your mind.”

He squared his shoulders and walked the last five feet into the living room. Stopped in the doorway. Leaned against it to hold himself up. “This male slave happens to be her husband and will not tolerate you talking to her in such a manner.”

Fae turned by degrees to face him. She tried to glare at him, but eyes reflecting unshed tears said she’d never been more thankful to see him. More fingers of warmth moved through his body. He crossed to her, folded her in his arms, stared at Benai Hart. She pressed into the safety of his embrace, her trembling forcing the pain to the back of his mind.

“Do you not know who I am?”

“I do. I bow to no one.”

Buy links

Buy The King’s Mistress by Rachel Leigh Smith online at these fine establishments:

Book teasers

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Goodreads

Author bio

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Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging . . .

She blogs sporadically, can be found on Twitter, and hangs out on Facebook. You can sign up for her newsletter here. She’s an active member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. Her books can been found on Goodreads, and Amazon.

Jim

One thing about working at home, one loses track of the days, the day, the date. I went on my merry way all day today without realizing what day it was. As it turns out, 24 years ago today (!) I lost my cousin Jim. He was… amazing. In a note given to my aunt upon his death, Jim was described as being at once a good man to have by your side in a fight, the best friend you could ever have, and a poet.

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He was the only son, only child, of my mother’s sister, the oldest of the five of us first cousins. I was the sister he never had. He, the bother I never had. We were only children of sisters. We shared… everything. I miss him so. My heart still aches, even after all this time.

Jim

Until just before I turned 31 years old, Jim was always three years older, three years smarter, three years more clever. With just two exceptions, he won every game we every played. (I won one normal game of checkers, and one unforgettable game of gin rummy. That’s it. That’s all. It was all fabulous.)

Souders

I’ll never forget when he came home from his second tour in Europe, drove more than 200 miles up to the town I lived in. Amidst all the traffic I heard his car drive up to the curb in front of my house. He got out of the car about the time I emerged from the house. He ran up the walk as I ran down it. He grabbed me, swung me around in a circle, hugged me close. We laughed.

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Even after all these years I still miss you terribly, dear cousin.

People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.
People will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou

Designer interview: Adrienne Ku

This is the third and final interview I’m doing for the GAL2014 event. Adrienne Ku has a nice selection of socks, lace, and colorwork patterns in her catalog. She lives and designs in Illinois, and can be found around the web: Drin on Ravelry (Mushroom Knits designs), her blog, and on Twitter. Please continue to learn a bit about Adrienne. By the way, Adrienne has a nice surprise for you, if you make it all the way to the end of this post. Just saying.

How did you get started designing?

Adrienne: I guess I started designing shortly after learning to knit. I didn’t really look at it as “designing” though, I was simply making it up as I went along. The thought of writing up and publishing my work never even crossed my mind until I joined a local knitting group. A wonderful group of ladies, always supporting each other in any way possible. They encouraged me to put my designs out there and just see what happens. Eventually, I decided to give it a try. I did my research and played around with publishing on Ravelry. I finally published my first real pattern, Simple Skyp Socks and was absolutely blown away by the response. All the positive comments and feedback from people I had never met, complete strangers, it was every encouraging. What really surprised me was how much I enjoyed seeing the projects other people made with my design. That’s still the thing I love most about designing.

What is your usual process on a fiber project, for instance, do you start with a yarn, a cute pattern, a need you’ve noticed, something exciting you saw in a movie you want to copy, or a technique you want to learn—then what do you do next, and then what?

Adrienne: For me it almost always starts with the yarn. First, I think about the characteristics that make that specific yarn special and what type of project the yarn is best suited for. Next, I think about what type of fabric would most highlight that yarn’s special characteristics. At this point, I start to think about the design details. Sometimes the yarn is perfect for a design idea I have in my sketchbook, other times I will flip through my stitch dictionaries looking for something to jump out at me. Next comes the swatching, lots and lots of swatching. Once I am satisfied with the stitch patterns I’ve chosen, I sit down and write the pattern. Finally, it’s time to cast on.

What are some of your favorite materials, including yarns, knitting tools, books…?

Adrienne: Oh my! I have so many favorites, I could go on for days! But the one knitting gadget that I simply would not want to be without would be my darning mushrooms. My love for them borders on obsession! It’s the perfect tool and not just for darning socks, it comes in quite handy when tightening up the stitches after grafting the toe. Over the years my collection has grown considerably and I love each and every one. Some are new but most of them are quite old and show years of use, covered in dings and scratches from darning needles. My favorites are the ones that the handle unscrews from the mushroom cap top to reveal a hidden compartment in the handle to hold your darning needles. Absolutely brilliant! I love my darning mushrooms.

Darning mushrooms

Darning mushrooms

You have some lovely lace designs. Can you tell us what inspires you about working with lace?

Adrienne: That’s so kind of you to say, thank you. I have always been drawn to lace knitting. To be honest, when I was a new knitter I thought stockinette was “hard” and more suited for advanced knitters. The inconsistency in my gauge and every little mistake seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Lace is so much more forgiving. It allowed me to become more confident in my knitting, I could look at a finished piece and see the beauty in it as a whole rather than only seeing all the little individual mistakes. When I am working on a new lace design I try to make it as accessible as possible to knitters of all skill levels. There are so many simple and lovely lace patterns, lace doesn’t have to be “hard” and more importantly, it doesn’t have to be “hard” to be beautiful. (Ed.: Learning Curve and 20 Days are two of my favorites.)

Learning Curve

Learning Curve

20 Days

20 Days

Will you have any new releases during the GAL 2014
period? If so, please tell us about them.

Adrienne: I will be releasing a new pattern, Alpine Lattice—a matching hat and cowl worked in a simple colorwork pattern (only work with one color per row). This pattern had previously been available exclusively through Signature Needle Arts and will now be available through my Ravelry pattern store as well.

Special offer

Now through December 31, 2014, get 25% off any of Adrienne’s designs in her Ravelry store using the coupon code Mushrooms.