Sunday, March 31, 2019

A forever home.

The concept of home -- specifically, the concept of a forever home -- is intriguing me this week.

SergeyNivens | Deposit Photos

We talk about how home is where the heart is. Going home for the holidays is idealized. When we discuss adopting a pet, we talk about giving them a forever home.

But home is also where you find it, as your adopted pet can tell you. And home may not be where the heart is if the heart was badly hurt there, through abuse or neglect.

Lots of people have become nomads. It's estimated that 40 million Americans move every year at least once. That's 40 percent of us. Some may move for work and some for retirement or other reasons. And certainly, many of them may have an idealized vision of their forever home in their heads -- maybe they lived there once and want to move back, or maybe they believe, or at least would like to think, they're moving there now.

And sometimes you think you've found your forever home, but things change and you find yourself moving on.

Home is sort of a sub-subplot in Rivers Run. Collum Barth is a gnome -- an Earth Elemental -- whose family has lived in (or near) Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, for centuries. He has put down roots there, as an Earth Elemental would. He is the family home, and by extension the region surrounding it.

But he's the only one left. His brother left for college and when he returned, he settled nearby -- but not in the old family home. Collum's parents, too, have moved away (we'll explore their new home in the next book, Treacherous Ground). But Collum identifies with the old place -- the one that straddles our world and the Otherworld.

By contrast, Raney Meadows spent her youth on the run. She's an undine -- a Water Elemental -- and at home in fast-flowing water. Her mother constantly moved them from place to place, sometimes at a moment's notice.  Now Raney is an actress with a beach house in Malibu, but she doesn't talk about it as if it's her dream home. It's a place to hang her hat -- and submerge herself in the soaking tub and the swimming pool. But a forever home? She may not have one.

I'm not sure I have one, either. Unlike Raney, I didn't move around a whole lot as a kid. But unlike Collum, I haven't lived in one place all my life, either. When I was in radio, I moved around a lot -- from Indiana to West Virginia to Tidewater Virginia to the DC area. Then we lived in Denver for a few months. For many years, I thought Colorado would be my forever home; now I'm not so sure. My current candidate is Santa Fe, but it occurred to me last week that I might not stay there forever, either.

And tonight, I learned that whole rural villages are still for sale in Spain. I'd read a few years ago about one village up for sale, and figured that was the end of it -- but no, apparently that one was the vanguard. There are lots more now. And they're cheap. I don't know how difficult it would be to retire there -- the EU has rules about letting Americans move in, after all. But...hmm.

As for Raney and Collum, I'm not sure where their relationship is going. Raney's career is in LA, and I doubt Collum would move there for her. I guess we'll all have to wait and see.

Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and I am rested and ready. I punched up the outline this evening and am ready to hit the ground running. I'll let you know how it goes.

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

Sunday, March 24, 2019

RIVERS RUN is live.

I know I promised last week that Rivers Run would be available for purchase this past Thursday -- but Amazon was speedier than I expected. The Kindle version actually dropped Wednesday. Thanks to everyone who has already bought a copy of the book -- you're all my best friends forever. For the rest of you, here's the Amazon US link, and here's the one for Amazon UK. (I'm terrible about remembering to post links for the non-US Amazon stores. Sorry about that.)

I was hoping I would have good news tonight about the paperback edition. Alas, it's still in process. The explanation requires a bit of "inside baseball," so bear with me.

Up until now, I've been using CreateSpace for publishing my paperback editions. But Amazon has decided to shut down CreateSpace and bring all of its indie publishing operations under the KDP banner. I tried the KDP paperback setup for the hard-copy version of the Pipe Woman Chronicles Omnibus (a steal at just $18.99!), but the system was in beta then, and it was almost exactly like publishing via CreateSpace. So I figured getting Rivers Run through it would be a piece of cake.

Oh haha. KDP is using a different cover creation process.

I forget what my favorite CreateSpace cover template was called, but basically you took your cover image from your ebook, created a back cover image, and dropped both images into this template. The template had preset parameters for the spine -- the number of fonts and colors was limited, true, but I was always able to find one that worked, and that I could carry across a whole series.

That template is now gone. KDP has a sort of similar one, where you can drop in your ebook cover art and put the text of the blurb and bio on the back. But this time -- unlike nearly every other time, when I've forgotten to make the back cover image until I was uploading the book to CreateSpace (whoops!) -- I'd actually created the back cover art ahead of time. And I really liked it. I wanted to use it. But the only way I could see to do that was to download one of KDP's cover templates and -- shudder -- make my own spine.

For the paperback edition, of course. I still have an actual spine installed in my back.


I downloaded the template Friday night, threw together the paperback cover image, and uploaded everything. When I woke up this morning, I had an email from KDP saying there was a problem with my cover. Which I could have predicted, as this is the first time I've made a full cover from scratch in, -- oh, since SwanSong, I think, in August 2011.

So I fussed around with it and uploaded it this morning. I'm hoping this version will pass muster. Here it is -- isn't the back gorgeous?

Fingers crossed that KDP accepts it. I tell you what, every day's a new adventure for an indie author.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The run-up to Rivers Run.

I've just a quick post tonight, as I've been working on Rivers Run all day and I'm kind of tuckered out.

The good news is that we're on track for publication this Thursday, as promised. I still have to finish the formatting and write the author's note. But here's the cover, which I finalized today:

And here's the description:

The last thing Raney Meadows needs is more notoriety. She has come east from Los Angeles to escape her life as an actor by getting back to nature. But while hiking the Appalachian Trail, she finds a body in the Shenandoah River -- a drowned kayaker who was neither a kayaker nor a drowning victim -- and the river's goddess tells Raney she has to make it right. Why Raney? Because she's a Water Elemental. Her mother is an undine.
Before long, Raney discovers she's not the only Elemental in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia – Earth, Air, and Fire are here, too. Moreover, these four Elementals have been brought together for a purpose: an ancient evil has awakened, and only by joining all of the Elements together can the earth be saved.
Raney wants to help, but she is torn, because getting involved would put her mother in danger. Her very human father has been looking for his undine – and he may be involved with the ancient evil that aims to destroy the earth.
Once the Kindle version is live, I'll put notices in all the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, and my mailing list. I usually aim to get the paperback out at about the same time as the ebook, but I suspect it will be next weekend before I can get that done. I will let you know.

The other good news is that I signed up today to do Camp NaNoWriMo next month -- during which I'll be writing book 2 of this series, which now has the working title of Treacherous Ground (oooh!). Stay tuned for more on that.

These moments of bloggy publishing madness have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Eli's here.

Among my excuses for not finishing up Rivers Run is that I've been car shopping. Last weekend, I bit the bullet and bought a new car.
Eli's on the left, Fitzy's on the right.
My old car was a bright blue 2008 Honda Fit (a Jazz, for you Europeans). He was named FitzPetey, which means "son of Petey," and yes, therein lies a tale. My all-time favorite car ever was my mother's 1967 Mustang, but for a long time my favorite car I ever owned was the beige Chevy Chevette I bought used when I lived in Huntington, WV. I've always been in the habit of naming my rides -- the car I owned prior to Fitzy was a 1974 Plymouth Fury I dubbed Sherman the Tank -- and when contemplating the Chevette, the name Petey came into my head and stayed. So Petey it was.

I loved that car because it was all the things Sherman was not: It was small and cute and fun to drive; it got pretty good gas mileage for the '80s; and it could carry a four-drawer dresser when I dropped the back seat down. It was, in sum, a perfect car for twentysomething me.

Petey was succeeded by a series of sedate sedans of the Toyota Corolla variety. By 2008, the year my mother died, the kids had gone away to college and I wanted something less sedate. So I scoured the Consumer Reports car issue and discovered they loved the Honda Fit. It was small and cute and fun to drive, especially in a 5-speed; it got terrific gas mileage for not being a hybrid; and thanks to the back seat style, I could move a kid to college without renting an SUV. And I could get one in bright blue. So I test-drove one. It was the most fun I'd had behind the wheel since driving the Chevette. So I bought it and dubbed it FitzPetey.

Eleven years later, Fitzy was still rolling along. And he was still fun to drive. But he was getting to the point where I was pretty sure I would have to sink some money into him. And too, I wasn't crazy about the prospect of driving a ten-plus-year-old car when I retired. So I started thinking about what I'd want to drive as I got older, and researching my options. The first thing I learned was that Consumer Reports was no longer so crazy about the Honda Fit -- which was okay, as I was thinking of going a little bigger anyway. But not too big. I flirted with the idea of buying something with enough towing capacity for a small trailer (not a tiny house!), but they seemed like a huge step up from my little Fit.

Then I started looking at crossover SUVs, which weren't a lot bigger than Fitzy -- but it appeared the manufacturers were all trying to out-muscle each other in body style. (I sat in a Hyundai Kona, which most of the car ratings sites love, and felt like I could be warming up for a stock-car race. I'm sure there's a market for them, but it's not me.)

And then I started looking at hybrids, and that's when I found the Kia Niro. It's bigger than Fitzy, but not by that much. It's got more cargo space than Fitzy, and better gas mileage than Fitzy ever had. Kia is marketing it as a crossover SUV, but it's a lot friendlier-looking than the tough-guy vehicles the other guys are selling. Here, take a look. This one is a 2017, but the front of my car looks the same.
Mr.choppers | Wikimedia Commons | CC 3.0
So I bought it and named it Eli, which only makes sense if you know anything about 1960s singer-songwriters. See, the car model is a Niro, which is pretty close to Laura Nyro, who wrote a bunch of hits in the '60s and '70s before dying of ovarian cancer in 1997. Among the songs she wrote is Eli's Comin', which was a hit for Three Dog Night in 1969. (She also recorded her own version, but this is the one I remember.)

The one thing I may regret about buying this car is that my kids can drive it. Neither can drive a stick shift, so Fitzy was mine, all mine. I believe I'm about to learn the joys of sharing a car again, as Kat drove it last night and appears to be hooked. But I've already made it clear that I have dibs on putting the first scratch on Eli -- and that it won't happen for a long, long time.

I admit, the wait for Rivers Run is getting ridiculous. So I'm committing now to a release date of  Thursday, March 21st -- just a week and a half from now.

That will clear the decks for me to finish writing Book 2 during CampNaNo in April, with publication probably around the solstice in June -- let's call it Thursday, June 20th.

The final two books aren't much more than a glimmer in my eye at this point, but surely I can get the third one out by the fall equinox -- say, Thursday, September 19th, although I may have to push that forward a week. Then the fourth and final book would drop sometime around Yule.

Wish me luck.

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

Sunday, March 3, 2019

As promised: a knitting post.

Knitting, they say, is a great stress reliever. They often say this just before throwing their current work in progress across the room in frustration, but anyway.

Since we last chatted about knitting back in October, I've been flying through projects like the hounds of Hell were after me. I'm not sure why. I think it's partly because I've had weaving on my mind since taking that two-day workshop in November and would like to get the loom out again -- but I had several knitting projects queued up, with patterns and yarn purchased, that I wanted to finish first. Too, the queued projects all use wool yarns, and I'd like to finish them all in time to wear them before the weather gets warm again.

First up: a cardigan. The pattern is called Old Growth and it's in the Tin Can Knits pattern book that I bought in Colorado last summer. I loved the design as soon as I saw it -- the button bands are offset from the center front, which allows for a tree-shaped lace panel on the wider side. That panel, I knew, would not only look awesome, but would keep the boring torso portion of the sweater from being too tedious to knit. I even found buttons with a nubbly surface that looks like tree bark. Here's how it turned out:

Next, I resurrected a shawl project called Sepia. I don't typically have many UFOs (UnFinished Objects) lying around -- I tend to start one project and stick at it 'til it's done. But this one I started and put aside. The pattern calls for increases along the center ridge of the triangle and at either end -- pretty standard stuff -- but in this case, the designer used backwards-loop cast-ons for the increases, which are super easy to do but I'm not nuts about them. To make matters worse, you're supposed to pay attention to the slant of the loop -- so you'd twist the loop one way for right-leaning stitches and the other way for left-leaning stitches.

I ripped out and started over a couple of times, trying different increases, but in the end I gave in and did what the pattern said to do. Mostly. I also gave myself permission to not stress about whether I'd done the correct slant for each cast-on stitch. I'm sure a fair number of the increases are slanting the wrong way, but it doesn't seem to matter much.

My third project was another sweater -- a pullover called the Pavement. You start at the top and knit down in stockinette, in the round, except for garter stitch at the collar, cuffs, and bottom edge. There were short rows in the collar back and for the shirt-tail hem, which kept things interesting. In all, it was a surprisingly quick knit -- partly because I was rushing to finish it and shorted the sleeve length by an inch or two. Ah well. It looks fine with a turtleneck underneath.

I might pull out the garter stitch and lengthen the sleeves someday -- but not right now, because I've moved on to my fourth and final queued project. It's another shawl, called the Level, and it's my third Nancy Whitman pattern -- she designed the Eden Prairie and the High Street shawls that I've enjoyed knitting and wearing. This one has her characteristic blocks of color, but this time they're narrow lines on a plain background, with a lovely wide border.

I'm not very far into it yet, as you can see.

Eventually I'll have three copper-colored stripes and three blue ones. It's been going pretty fast, but the rows get progressively longer. And then I get to knit the border. Let's see, it's the beginning of March...spring will be here in two and a half weeks... Hmm. Well, at least I got the sweaters done in time to wear this winter.

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