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Announcing The Other Lane

Can’t wait for July and need a sneak peek now? You’re in luck, I have one.

On November 1st, 2014, I opened my laptop with a steely determination to actually win Nanowrimo and finish a novel by November 30th. I had been out of school for three years by this point, and the writing burnout from earning my creative writing degree was finally fading. My income had evened out. I was married. Living in a great house. Felix was about six months old and growing more independent every day.

The writing bug had been nibbling at me months. I felt that pull toward the keyboard. Write. Write. Write, it said, but I didn’t have a story in my head yet. I had zero clue where to start.

I also had zero excuses left not to do it.

And all I wanted to do that November was finish something.

So I sat down November 1st and wrote.

And then I did it every day for the next 27 days until I was done.

It was mess of a first draft. And it should have been. Despite the degree, I had never written a novel before. Two years of revision, a few months starting a second project and having another baby, and many late night pep talks later, I had a finished draft of The Other Lane.

And the most exciting news of all is that three months from now, I am going to hold a published book in my own two hands.

That’s right. I said it. I’m doing it.

I’m publishing my own books now.

And the first one is coming out July 10th!

I am doing what is known in the publishing industry as publishing “wide”, which meansĀ The Other Lane will be available onĀ  nook, Kobo, iBooks, Amazon, and also available on library services like Overdrive.

There is still a ton of work to get done in the next few weeks, and I will be updating the blog as the big day gets closer. But, if you want to hear all the new before anyone else, join my newsletter. If you do, you’ll also get the first 50 pages of The Other Lane to peruse at your leisure on your favorite ereader.

Here we go big scary world. Let’s do this thing!

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Decluttering: Books

Books are the number one hardest thing for me to get rid of. I thought it would be yarn or fiber arts related goods, but selling my drum carder taught me that I’m just fine without it. Books though. For more than half my life books have been my identity–I was a reader, a writer– it was mandataory that I have a large book collection.

Our bookshelves were messy
Our bookshelves were messy

Because of that, it took me a few weeks after purging my clothes to make it over to my bookshelves. That’s right, shelves. I have one in the bedroom, two in the living room, and my husband has three in his office. (I didn’t touch his books, and he flat out refused to get rid of them on his own. He even rescued a few volumes from my discard pile.)

Yes, that is a doorknob and a half-knit sock you see.
And the tall one had become a place to keep things out of toddler’s reach.

I had two rules. in discarding.
1. I had to really love the book, and want to reread it and / or use it in future in order to keep it.
2. If I loved it, but had the eBook, I had to get rid of the paper copy.

For whatever reason, I didn't think this would be such a huge job when I started...
All of my books sorted into piles

Out of about 300 books, I only ended up keeping 100, most of which fit on the one bookshelf in the bedroom. The rest are all art/business related books, so they will live in the studio, and even then, there are only about a dozen. Most of the books I am gettind rid of are old books I either couldn’t or didn’t want to sell back to the college bookstore. For some reason, when I was in college, I wanted to keep all of my English-major related books.

He's been very helpful through this whole clutter culling process, so much so that I've accidentally thrown away some important thing Felix decided we didn't need anymore.
Felix is helping sort books.

I haven’t cracked a single one of them in the five years since I graduated. Obviously, I’m over it.

Not surprisingly, the books I kept were by the authors I love the most, John Irving, Barbara Kingsolver, Thomas Hardy, The Brontes, etc. The rest are about gardening and farming–all of the things that make me dream and give me joy.

Secret, most of the discards are still in boxes on my back porch as I slowly find places to donate them.
The Final Sort. The keepers in the front, the discards in the back

One surprise was that I kept only two knitting books. I am discarding some gorgeous pattern books (interested in snatching one up? Stay tuned, I’ll have them up for grabs in a few days), because I almost always knit from indie patterns on ravelry. Downloading patterns takes up so much less space.

Now I have all of my books in one place, organized by author and subject, and easy to find.

There are roughly 60 books here. Most of the young adult books and the Harry Potter books went to live in the kids' room.
The end product

I expected to me be sad to see so many volumes go, but I feel lighter for having pared down my collection to only my favorite books. And, next time we move, we’ll have 200 fewer books to haul.

What are the books you can’t live without?

PS, You might have noticed that I didn’t blog about purging my closet. It’s always been easy for me to get rid of clothes, I have little emotional attachment to most garments, and generally only buy what I need to get by for awhile. I would like to be more intentional about what I bring into my collection in the future, but being in the middle of a pregnancy, clothes only cross my mind when I complain about how all my maternity pants are still too big, and all of my regular pants are way too small.

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A List

1. It’s been six weeks since my miscarriage. I am 100% healthy and feeling pretty good in general. Thank you everyone for your sympathies. Even if I wasn’t in the headspace to talk too much, it really meant a lot to hear from you.

2. This summer has been nothing but change. On top of the above, my husband and I are both working outside the home. The only other time this has happened in our entire relationship was while I was pregnant Felix, who is now in daycare. It’s a huge transition that we’re all still wrapping our heads around.

3. Because of all this change and upheaval, my attention span has been short. The only thing that I have spent any significant time on has been my novel.

4. I started my fourth big revision to my original Nanowrimo story last week. I’ve come to the conclusion that my method for writing novels is the most arduous and slow that there is–you know, besides not writing at all.

5. Once I gave myself permission to write and rewrite and let anything happen in my universe that I wanted to, I might have got carried away doing just that. I explored every nook and cranny, and it got me up to almost 140,000 words. That’s way too long!

6. Cutting 50,000 to 60,000 words sounds like a big job. That’s a whole Nanowrimo! But so far, I am having a blast revising it down, keeping on subject, keeping just to what’s important. That was the valuable part of all that exploration over the last few months.

7. I miss blogging.

8. My knitting and fiber arts have been all over the place. I have only finished one project since April: a toy giraffe for Athrun for his birthday.

9. I’ve been posting knitting photos to instagram and twitter. I’m tinydinostudios on both.

10. Have you seen what they’re doing on etsy right now? They are running a crowd-sourcing pilot program, and it’s awesome. I was wanting this exact thing the entire time my shop was open to allow me to buy a whole clip of wool and send it to the mill. Ah well. I’ll pass the love along.

11. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the campaign for Sarah Welch Pottery before it was over and will have a new ceramic travel mug headed my way in a couple of months. It’s worth the wait, I’ll drink my coffee iced out of glass until then.

12. Yes, I am enough of a coffee snob that I don’t like plastic or stainless coffee mugs. One retains old rancid coffee flavor. One makes the coffee taste like metal. No, I am not delusional. It’s really there.

13. I just finished a honking long book–about 1000 pages–and I don’t know what to read next. Any suggestions?

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My Magic Pink Overnight Bag

I have done nothing shop related for the past four days. In many ways, this is probably very, very bad. And in many ways this has been very, very good. Although my shop has only been open a month and I should probably be spending more time than ever promoting it and bulking up my inventory, I got to Saturday and I just couldn’t. Saturday and Sunday are usually my big production days because I don’t work in the afternoons and I don’t have class. I try to get the house the clean and then mess it all up again by dyeing like crazy. This Saturday, after work, after going to the gym, I fell asleep on the sofa while Athrun, beneficently, played quietly by himself on the floor beside me. While I thank my incredibly savvy four-year old son for being good enough to recognize that I was completely beat, this scenario is not all right with me at all.

I knew, a year ago, when I started planning to open my shop, that it would add a heavy work load to my already over-committed and admittedly stressful schedule. I knew that the upcoming school year, while being my last, might also be my most intense. I also knew that I most likely would not be able to cut back my hours at my day job; it just would not be financially feasible. And never for one moment did I think that I couldn’t get it all done. And I still don’t.

One thing I have had to admit to myself recently is that is it OK to take a break every now and again. I don’t have to work constantly. (And believe me, for about the last six or seven years, that is kind of all I have done.) So, when I was rested enough to hold my own consciousness on Saturday, all my plans of dyeing some more silk hankies went completely out the window. I decided it was time for a break. I let myself off. I have been letting myself off of a lot of things the past few days. Housework. Homework (I did some today, and I plan to do some more as soon as I get this post published). Dyeing. Social-networking (which is the hardest part of the online business for me. I am a complete internet introvert). Instead, I ordered a couple of spring dresses for myself off the internet rather than yarn or roving. I bought a couple of simple card games to play with my son. I got a start on all the books I have bought over the last few months. I finished two books this week. One was The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This book was fantastic. It has all of the silly elements I have come to expect from Patricia C. Wrede and her Enchanted Forest Chronicles, with all the lovely romance and intrigue one expects from Regency England. Go out and buy all seven books (three from Enchanted Chocolate Pot Series and four from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles) from your local bookstore and enjoy. It makes for brilliant spring reading. In fact, I am taking the second chocolate pot book, The Grand Tour, with me on the plane tomorrow, but more on that later.

The other book I finished was Rachel Herron’s How to Knit a Heart Back Home. This is the second romance I have ever read (the first one being the book’s precursor, How to Knit a Love Song), but I have to say I thought this book was simply phenomenal. I enjoyed Rachel’s first book, but I really think she has created a genre all her own in her second book. It had romance, and it had knitting, and it had a beautiful beach town, but it also had a lot of complex character work, a lot of charm, and a lot of humor. That is a lot of stuff to work into just one story. As a fellow creative writing major (and in two months, an official fellow Creative Writer Degree Holder), I really, really just want to call Rachel Herron up and say. “Cheerio, brilliant novel my dear. Beautiful work.” As I neither know her, nor have the ability to play the nonchalant Brit I have always admired, all I can really say is that I wish Rachel Herron was my real life writing buddy. And you should go buy both her books. And her third one when it comes out in the fall. And I am so knitting the sweater pattern at the end of the book. Yeah, her books are that cool.

In addition to all that, I am going on an adventure this weekend. I am flying to Denver by myself. I have never ever ever traveled on my own. I am visiting my brilliant sister, Audrey, who goes to school there, so I am not going to be by myself the whole time, but I am actually getting on a plane on my own and flying for an hour, and landing. No parents, no boyfriend, no kid, no siblings, no high school German teacher. I will be standing in line, by myself, reading my young adult novel and hoping they don’t confiscate my knitting project (the birthday present for my other sister, so it would be really tragic). I am trying not to be afraid, because the traveling part really doesn’t bother me. The fact that I don’t like planes or airports or being more than three feet above stable ground at any time is mostly peripheral. I am really just more amazed that I have somehow made it to 26 without going anywhere on my own. And, I don’t even feel a little bit guilty about leaving Athrun behind. (OK, so I might have teared up a little bit when he was helping me pack this morning and he got upset and cried and said, “But I really wanted to go with you this time too.” And I understand that, since we went to Denver at this same time last year together, he would want to go again, but right now, the logistics just aren’t there.) What this really boils down to is, I need some time to relax. And I am completely psyched to be going, to be doing something different, to be loading myself with my magic (because it has accommodated my tendency to over pack and still be smaller than your standard carry-on bag) pink overnight bag and my sparkly Tom’s onto an airplane and seeing what Denver has to offer. I am hoping these things include a showing of Equus, Jane Eyre (the new film), a few really good local yarn stores, and a lot of good food. I do have my camera and my laptop packed into my magic pink overnight bag, which means I have the intention of blogging my trip, if not the time while I am gone.

I arrive back home Sunday and the whole of spring break stretched out a head of me. If you are keeping tabs on the shop, I would expect to start seeing some major updates and additions about this time next week.

For now though, I finished the cardigan I planned to take on my trip today, and my spring dresses arrived in time for me to pack them. Everything is looking pretty good.