Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring is Coming to LA

I think spring is on its way to LA.  We've actually had a Los Angeles winter this year, with plenty of rain, which has become unusual.  More rain is predicted for later this week, but the storms do seem to be winding down.

Yes, even a real LA winter isn't as bad as so many other winters in this country.  But it's easy to notice an LA winter when we haven't really had one for a while.

The fun part of it has been some of the results of the storms.  Like fields of flowers, particularly poppies in some areas.  Another enjoyable result was the invasion of lots of kaleidoscopes of painted lady butterflies all around our area, including in our yard.  Kaleidoscope is one of the things you can call a flock or horde or flutter of butterflies.

We also have birds around, including a hawk who perches on top of a tree visible out our back window and watches the world.  And talks to me when I take the dogs outside.  Then, earlier this week in a time of lots of wind, the hawk and a crow flew in a synchronized dance, wings outstretched and soaring.  The crow needed to flap its wings a bit more than the hawk, but it was amazing how coordinated the two unrelated birds appeared to be.

But I'm not spending all my time watching butterflies, hawks and crows.  I'm getting some writing done, too.  Even when my dogs come by and stare at me so I have to obey whichever command they're giving at that time.

The official start of spring is tomorrow, March 21.  I hope those of you in parts of the country that have been experiencing terrible weather actually start your spring then if you haven't already. 

And I'll be interested to see what the next changes in the weather do to our flora and fauna this year.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mindful of Yarn

I am busy writing the seventh Yarn Retreat Mystery. I don’t have a cover yet or a title for sure, so I just posted the cover of book number six.
This time there’s another group having a retreat at the same time that Casey is putting on hers. The retreaters are a group from Silicon Valley and the theme is mindfulness. But unfortunately they left the planning and arranging up to Kevin St. John the manager of Vista Del Mar. Let’s just say that Kevin tried cutting more than a few corners. And when the leader of the Silicon Valley people sees what Casey has going on with her retreat, he asks her to fill in what Kevin has left out.
Included in the new additions is a mindful knitting workshop. Mindfulness is a word tossed around a lot these days. There seem to be a number of meanings, but basically it means to focus on something and be in the moment. Knitting is a perfect mindful activity, particularly for new knitters as they have to concentrate on what they are doing and get lost in the stitches.
There are supposed to be benefits like relaxation and stress reduction. Whatever mindful thing you’re doing takes up your thoughts which means they’re off of everything else. It lets air blow through your mind.
Of course, it’s really me behind the plans for their workshop, so then I had to come up with what the group would make. I couldn’t imagine the Silicon Valley bunch happy with making a swatch or even a wash cloth. It needed to be something unisex and something that the mostly men in the group would find interesting. I came up with the idea of a skinny tie. This group likes to think of themselves as trendsetters, so they could even start a new style.
I decided on the needles and found a yarn called Denim. The pattern for now is in my head and needs to be worked out. As for how the Silicon Valley people like their mindful knitting. I haven’t written the workshop scene yet, so even I don’t know.
Casey is doing double duty. Her retreaters are a bunch of women celebrating one of their’s birthday. They’re knitters, so their request was to learn how to crochet. The challenge there was to come up with something for them to make that spotlights the difference between crochet and knitting.
I bought the yarn for the crochet project. It’s something called Puzzle, which I think refers to the fact you can’t tell what it is going to look like. I can’t wait to find out.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Scrapbooking: A Mix of Traditional Pages and Pocket Pages

Sorry for having "disappeared" the last few weeks. Between trips, deadlines, and just feeling a little under the weather, I was having a hard time getting everything done, which is also why the post is late going up this week. But at least it's going up!

At a crop last weekend, I was getting a little overwhelmed with the amount of pictures I still had to scrapbook for our trip to California. We weren't sure when we'd be able to go back (loved California!) or that our children would be able to come with us. With them all being adults with jobs and schooling, we're never sure when they're schedules will allow them to join us so we do our best to enjoy and document the time. Which is why I end up with about 500 or so photos to scrapbook.

For some of the events, I had a ton of pictures and wanted to use them all, but I having a bit of trouble thinking of new ideas for traditional layouts. I usually do two page layouts, one page having the title and the other the journaling. Some of the places we visited needed more than two pages, so I started incorporating pocket pages into the layouts.

One of the methods I use to mix the pocket and traditional is to "sandwich" the two types of layouts.  I start with a traditional "beginning" and "ending" page and add in the pocket page (or pages) between the traditional pages.

The beginning and ending page to the traditional layouts I create. The journaling isn't complete as I prefer to journal at home rather than at retreats. Since I'm always a little distracted at retreats (talking, singing along to music), I usually have a mistake or two in the journaling block.

 Since this layout was of the Rose Garden and I had taken duplicate pictures of some flowers and cacti, I was able to pare down the photos. I only needed to include one pocket page which allowed me to have another eight photos. (Another layout I completed (which I'll share another week), I used more pocket pages as we had tons of photos to include.) I match the pictures in the pocket to the traditional page it'll be next to. Since the left page had the title (used the Rose Garden sign picture) and one of the rose bushes, I placed the rose pictures on the "front" side of the pocket page.

The end page of the traditional double page spread had cacti pictures so the "back" side used those photos. I really wanted to use the vertical picture so I trimmed it in half and matted it on card stock. It was the only place I could see to include it and have the layout flow together.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Deadline Met, More to Come

The first of my new Harlequin Romantic Suspense books has a deadline of March 15--and I sent in the manuscript yesterday. 

That means I've started writing the next one, with a deadline that doesn't give me a lot of time to write it, but I've jumped in to begin it.

Meantime, I'm planning all kinds of things to promote, and enjoy, my writing.  Next month will be the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, and I'll be hanging out at a couple of mystery booths plus the romance booth.  I'll also be attending the California Dreamin' conference next month, which is held by multiple Romance Writers of America chapters in Southern California.

So, yes, I'm keeping busy.  And as I've mentioned, my next book to be published will be my fifth and last Barkery & Biscuits Mystery, For A Good Paws, which will be available in May.

I hope that, whatever is keeping you busy, you find it enjoyable, too!