Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tiny house porn.

I have a new obsession: looking at tiny houses on teh intarwebz.

The definition of a tiny house varies, but it's basically a dwelling, 1,000 square feet or less in size, that's meant to be lived in full-time. The form varies, but the cutest ones look like regular stick-built houses -- except they're tiny.

Take, for example, this Fencl (since renamed the Cypress 18 Overlook) by Tumbleweed Tiny House Company. Inside, it has 176 square feet, including the sleeping loft. Yes, it's built on a trailer chassis; no, it's not a glorified RV. Well, maybe it is a glorified RV. You can get RV financing for it, and local building codes don't apply because it's not a fixed structure. But it's designed and built to be a four-season permanent dwelling. And if you get tired of the view out the windows after you've parked it, you can hook it up to your vehicle again and move the whole house. You can buy the plans and build it yourself for about $27,000 worth of materials (the designers' estimate), or Tumbleweed will build the whole shebang for you for $66,000.
Then there's the Marmara, a slightly bigger model -- 284 square feet -- offered by Four Lights Tiny House Company. You can put this model on a trailer, too, or you can build it in a fixed location. This one's got an Arts and Crafts-style feel to it, doesn't it? Four Lights won't build it for you, but they will sell you the plans so you can build it yourself. Their estimate for materials only: $24,800 if you build it on a foundation; $29,500 if you build it on wheels. Labor, of course, is extra. But many of these places hold workshops where they teach you how to build the house yourself.

And note those price tags. If you've done any sort of real estate shopping in the US recently, you may be beginning to understand the appeal these little houses have for some folks. Yes, there's downsizing involved; yes, you'd be living in a space the size of an RV; no, it's not for everybody. But you sure can't beat the price.

Of course, there's more to the tiny house movement than the cost. Environmentalists may appreciate the small ecological footprint. And too, the smaller the house, the less upkeep it will require, and the smaller the space to clean. Of course, it also means you'll have less storage space; if you're a packrat, you'll have a tough time making it work.

Michael Dean Photography,
But you don't have to go all that small. A couple in Oregon hired an architect to design an 800-square-foot home for them. Here's a shot of the interior. The kitchen is in the rear of this photo. Looks pretty spacious, doesn't it? And I wouldn't even have to downsize; my current apartment is 850 square feet.

It would, however, take a lot of downsizing -- probably more than I'm willing to do -- to move myself into one of the truly tiny houses. And I can see the whole sleeping loft thing becoming a problem, the older I get; I would want a place with a bedroom on the first floor.

But those little houses on wheels sure are adorable.

It's official: the first draft of Scorched Earth is done. I finished it on Tuesday, but Camp NaNo validation didn't start 'til Friday and it's been a busy weekend, so I didn't have time to validate the book 'til tonight.

The official word count, including the section of the first chapter that I wrote before the start of April, is 61,611. I expect that will change in the final draft. But in any case, it's done, and it's already begun ripening. Barring any really stupid plot holes or other crises, I think we're looking at publication toward the end of May or in early June. As always, stay tuned for more info.

These moments of tiny-house blogginess
have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A day late, but 5K over.

I'm still pretty well fried from this weekend's marathon writing session, so I'm going to keep this short.

Alert readers of hearth/myth know that I (almost, nearly, pretty much) always post on Sunday nights. And I knew last night that I needed to write a blog post. Then I sat down and started working on Scorched Earth. At 1:00 a.m., I forced myself to set the manuscript aside and go to bed. It wasn't until the alarm went off this morning that I realized I'd never written a blog post.

Ack. I'm sorry.

On the other hand, I was somewhat shocked this morning to discover that I'd written more than 18,000 words on the book from Friday night through 1:00 a.m. today. (I did wonder yesterday why my butt was sore....) That means I've written 55,000-plus words, total, since April 1st -- more than enough to meet my Camp NaNoWriMo goal.

But the book's not done yet. I have one more pivotal scene to go, and then the mopping up. So I expect this first draft will top 60,000 words, but not by a lot. I hope.

Um, so that's pretty much it for right now. What else, what else.... I know! I'll fill out this post with a video! That won't take much thought, right?

I saw this on Peter Tork's Facebook fan page last week. It's the Monkees in concert, before Davy's death, doing "Shades of Gray." I've always loved the song, even when I was a kid. But as you get older, some things take on a new resonance, and I wonder whether that wasn't the case for the guys with this particular song.

These moments of foggy blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Camp NaNo, Day 13, or: My head is filled with Scorched Earth.

I have had to drag myself away from my new book in order to write this post. You may take that as an indication that the first draft of Scorched Earth, the third and final Land, Sea, Sky book, is rocketing along.

As I mentioned last week, Scorched Earth is my Camp NaNoWriMo project for this month. I am more confident than I was last week at this time that I'll finish the first draft early. I wrote 10,000 words last weekend, give or take. And I've done more than 12,000 words this weekend, even if I don't write another word tonight (which is not guaranteed -- I haven't closed the Word file yet).

I posted the cover on Wattpad, so I might as well share it here, too:

The plant in the foreground that looks like corn is called ayalendo, and yes, it plays a significant role in the book. This is the "Land" book, after all, so you can bet the bad guys will have it in for the Earth before it's over.

Speaking of having it in for someone, although maybe not deliberately, I would draw your attention to this blog post by my IU colleague Chris James. In it, he talks about a new contest sponsored by the Guardian, a newspaper in the UK, that's aimed at honoring indie books at the rate of one per month. On the surface, the contest looks like a huge step up for indies: the Guardian is a pretty well-respected newspaper with a decent book section, and a review there might be helpful to an indie's career.

But it turns out the Guardian is co-sponsoring the contest with Legend Press -- a publishing conglomerate with five imprints, one of which offers what amount to vanity publishing packages. It doesn't take much imagination to conclude that Legend Press will be collecting the email addresses of everyone who enters the Guardian's contest and will thereafter spam them with "helpful" emails, suggesting they spend hundreds or thousands of pounds to buy services for stuff they can do themselves.

I've said before (although perhaps not here), in my best world-weary voice, that I'm probably in the wrong end of this business. Authors, by and large, don't make a lot of money from their work. The stars do, of course, and the star machine (read: the traditional publishing industry) pumps up that possibility to everyone who's ever written a book; it keeps the tap flowing, so that they never run out of material to publish.

In addition, there are plenty of ancillary service providers out there who are out to make a quick buck from authors who dream of hitting the big time. Many service providers are legitimate, and most authors who go indie will have to hire at least some help -- editors and cover designers in particular. And I've worked with blog tour operators and publicists who I would hire again in a heartbeat. But it's so much work, any more, to separate the wheat from the chaff. It seems like a new "helpful" website pops up every day. Even NaNoWriMo got into the act last fall, offering winners (among other prizes) a 30% discount on an "ebook publishing package" at Book Country, Penguin's vanity publishing arm, which is tied closely to vanity publishing megalith Author Solutions (which Penguin also owns). And it's so easy to convince yourself that you need to hand over cash to somebody because you don't know what you're doing or can't possibly learn how to do it yourself.

That's why I'm so pleased to be involved with Indies Unlimited. One of our missions is to encourage indies to learn how to do-it-yourself -- and, if you're dead set on hiring someone, how to spot the good guys from the "service" providers who only want to fleece you.

I didn't mean to turn this post into a commercial for IU. But seriously, if you've written a book and you're thinking about self-publishing it, start there. We have a wealth of information on how to do it, and it's all free.

Now then: should I write some more? Or knit? Decisions, decisions....

These moments of cautionary blogginess are brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Works in progress.

Welcome to April. It's only day 6, and it's already been kind of a crazy month.

For starters, you'll be glad to know (I hope) that I have indeed started on Scorched Earth in earnest. As of right now, I'm more than 12,000 words into the first draft, which is ahead of where I need to be today. (I find it's a good practice during any NaNo event to write ahead when the opportunity arises. It's insurance against the inevitable days when real life gets between me and my work-in-progress.) I'm hoping to finish before the end of the month. Let's see if the writing gods cooperate.

Also, thanks to a follow-fest yesterday at Indies Unlimited (and a bit of gentle nagging from K.S. Brooks), I've joined Wattpad. The first draft of the first chapter of Scorched Earth is now posted there. It's slightly revised and lengthened from the back-of-the-book sample in Undertow; feel free to click through and read the new version, and leave me a note to let me know if you think I'm on the right track.

I got a nice surprise yesterday, when Carol Wyer featured me in a new thing on her blog called "Have You Read...?" I really appreciated her thinking of me.

But there's more than one kind of work-in-progress in my life. And since I can't say much more about the new book, I thought I'd fill out this blog post with some pictures of my knitting.

I finished the Celestarium shawl a couple of weeks ago. Here's a shot of it while it was being blocked. The little whitish dots scattered about are beads, and the whole thing is a re-creation (in yarn and beads, yet) of the night sky as seen from the North Pole. I did not chart this myself, thank you very much -- I found the pattern on Ravelry, and I only agreed to do it because my daughter Amy was leading a knit-along for the project for the yarn store where she works. And it turns out I've got a couple of places to wear it this spring.

Once that was out of the way, I started tearing through some other projects. The pattern for the shawl on the right is called New Edge. I've dubbed mine the New Edge Alpenglow because the colors look a little like sunrise in the mountains, when the sun is hitting the snowy peaks and turning them pink and purple, but the valleys are still in shadow. That's my story, anyway. (Side note: This shawl is only supposed to have 4 wedges. I didn't realize that the pattern started at the top edge; if I had, I would have begun knitting with the purple yarn. By the time I figured out my mistake, I was already into the second wedge of the shawl. Instead of frogging the whole thing and starting over, I decided to add a small extra section of the multicolor variegated yarn at the bottom, which in this picture is at the top. Hence, the knitter's motto: "It's not a mistake -- it's a design element!")

The New Edge Alpenglow took me only four days to knit -- which meant I then needed to find another project. Luckily, Amy gave me a skein of yarn for Yule. So I used it to cast on for a shawl called the Canyonlands. It's still a work-in-progress, as you can see at left. The top part of the shawl is garter stitch and the bottom edge is a seriously textured knit-purl design that's meant to mimic the flowy sandstone formations in the Southwest. You can't see it as well in this picture as I'd hoped, but there are traveling curves throughout, and the bottom edge will be wavy when it's done. I'll post a pic of the final result, if I ever get it done. This border is taking way longer to knit than the top part did. (Side note: Typically, knitting patterns put all the shaping stitches on the right side of the work. This one, however, has just as much shaping on the wrong side. You've never lived 'til you've had to do a slip-slip-purl stitch; I didn't know my wrist could bend that way....)

So that's a preview of my April in a nutshell: Whatever free time Camp NaNo doesn't suck up, the bottom edge of the Canyonlands shawl will.

(For the yarn geeks: I used Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Solstice for the Celestarium; Dragonfly Fibers Djinni Sock in Rocky Top for the Canyonlands; and Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in Purples and Stellar for the New Edge. More details on my Ravelry project page, if you care.)

These moments of progressive blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.