A sale, a sequel, and magical knitting

99centsA gust of wind scattered leaves across the University of Seattle campus. My hair tangled over my face. New contacts tortured my eyes, and books weighed down my backpack. It didn’t matter. A tornado could have snatched me up. As long as it carried me home and put an end to the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

“Watch out, Gabby.” My best friend Frank thrust his hands deep into the pockets of his pinstriped suit. “We’re being followed by a giant candy corn.”…

And so begins Blood Stitches, published a little more than a year ago—an anniversary of sorts, which will be celebrated over the next several weeks by my publisher, Kensington, with a 99-cent sale.

It was a story born as I learned how to knit, wrapping yarn around my fingers and listening to the music of my knitting needles as they tapped together. I ended up with a scarf, as well as a rough draft.

Years prior, I had read about an Italian woman, who had become trapped underneath her bed during an earthquake and kept herself occupied by knitting. I imagined firefighters digging through the rubble and finding her snuggled inside a knitted afghan.

The story tumbled around in my brain, somehow intersecting with my interest in Mexican culture. From there, I discovered the Mayan twin myth and the battle with the demon Vucub Caquix. Bit and pieces of Mayan mythology adhered themselves to my imagination, morphing into a history of magic and needlework.

After several rounds of feedback, revisions, publisher research, acceptance by Kensington, and final input from the fabulous editor Penny Barber, the final version of Blood Stitches appeared on May 12, 2015.

Since then it’s been a year of blog touring, tweeting, Facebooking, monitoring sales, and learning more about social media and promotion than I ever imagined… not the natural state for most writers, who are introverts at heart (particularly this one).

Somewhere along the way, I lost the thread connecting me to my magical-knitting family and the other characters from Blood Stitches. Thankfully, it recently returned.

Bone Needles, a sequel to Blood Stitches, has been pouring from my fingers, appropriately enough while I knit an afghan, the colorful yarn blending with eccentric characters and Mayan mythology until it forms a tapestry of words and needles.

I think even Esperanza, the creator of the apocalyptic knitting found in Blood Stitches, would approve.

Now, what are you waiting for? Head out into the Webosphere and buy a copy of Blood Stitches—read it, love it, and leave a review!

Amazonkindle, Apple, Google, Kobo, Nook

Halloween Tour: A week of stories and treats

Blood Stitches-highresEvery year on Halloween, the god of the Mayan underworld holds a demonic ball. Many attend; not everyone survives…

So begins my novella Blood Stitches–a story about magical knitting, fantastical creatures, sacrifice, and forgiveness–and to celebrate Halloween-when the story unfolds–the gang from Blood Stitches is going on a week-long tour, complete with spooky stories and prizes.

Scroll down to view the complete tour schedule, and I hope to see you during one of the stops–be sure to enter the giveaway (see below).

Reviews for Blood Stitches

“What a charming and delightful knitting fiction book… This book is refreshingly different in so many ways… The characters are interesting, with believable dialogue and and interesting plot. Great entertainment read. ” Read the rest here.

“Both technically and thematically, this short work was refreshing…. The main setting of the story was fun, as the characters travel to a fantastical underground… The plot was solid, the characters were interesting and quirky, and I really enjoyed the premise of magical knitting.” Read the rest here.

Giveaway

A Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour stops

You can also find the schedule here (a huge thank-you to NK Author Services for organizing the tour!).

10/25-Ebooks Galore– Spooky Short
10/25-Booklover Sue-Spooky Short
10/25-A Little Bit of R&R-Spooky Short
10/26-Wicked Women Book Blog-Spooky Short
10/26-Author Sandra Love-Spooky Short
10/26-Ebook Addicts
10/27-Eskimo Princess– Spooky Short
10/27-Midnight Angel Book Heaven
10/27-Spreading the Word
10/28-LBM Book Blog
10/28-Sapphyria’s Steamy Reads
10/28-Literature Litehouse
10/29-Dreamer Talks Books
10/29-Anything But Vanilla Books
10/29-Carly’s Cozy Corner
10/30-A Bit Bookish
10/30-Danielle’s Domain
10/30-We Read With A Glass of Wine
10/31-My Reading Reality-Spooky Short
10/31-Indy Book Fairy
10/31-One Book Boyfriend At A Time

HalloweenTourBanner

Miss Marple Knits a Mystery: Crafty Fiction 101

Miss+Marple+Knitting“Sitting here with one’s knitting, one just sees the facts,” says Miss Marple in The Blood-Stained Pavement, a short story from Agatha Christie’s The Thirteen Problems.

Throughout her long sleuthing career, the needle-wielding grand dame of British mysteries knits about 47 garments until, toward the end of her mystery-solving days, poor eyesight sadly forces her to give up her lifelong passion.

Yet, her influence can still be seen today as numerous crafty detectives continue to find the soothing influence of knitting helpful while solving crimes from knitting-store proprietresses, like Sally Goldenbaum’s Izzy Chambers, Mary Kruger’s Ariadne Evans, Anne Canadeo’s  Maggie Messina, and Barbara Bretton’s Chloe Hobbs (half-human/half sorceress) to knitting clubs as seen in the Maggie Sefton mysteries.

Knitting fiction has also broadened over the years, no longer fitting neatly into a mystery subcategory, almost becoming a genre of its own. Literary fiction, chick lit, and romance abound with plots centered around knitting from authors like Kate Jacobs, Terri Dulong, Debbie Macomber, Gil McNeil, Ann Hood, Rachael Herron, and even my own small contribution.

KnittingFictionCollageI first discovered knitting in fiction shortly before I learned how to knit through Anne Barlett’s Knitting. Its simple title hides a complex story about loss, acceptance, and an unlikely friendship between two women.

The novel came as a surprise to me, the author unknown, discovered, as are many of my favorite books, at a used bookstore. I devoured it, fascinated as one of the main characters, a textile artist, creates a knitted three-dimensional sculpture of a horse. I had never heard of such a thing, didn’t even realize it was possible, and from there I began to knit, although on a much smaller, simpler scale.

But it was also the beginning of my adventures in knitting fiction, which continues today, and which I’ve decided to share through a Facebook page. It’s all for fun—trivia, reviews, author news, and the like. Take a peek when you get a chance and if you enjoy what you see, a “like” would always be appreciated.

“I imagine you knitting headscarves and that sort of thing,” one of Miss Marple’s clients writes while requesting her services. “If that’s what you prefer to go on doing, that’s your decision. But if you prefer to serve the cause of justice, I hope you find it (the case) interesting.”

And, luckily for readers, she didn’t have to choose, happily pursuing both knitting and justice.

If I could knit and read at the same time...2

Knitting Memories Into Yarn

Afghan for my niece... almost finished!
Afghan for my niece… almost finished!

“Did you finish it?” my nephew Jonah asked me.

No further explanation was necessary. I knew what he wanted; he’d been asking the same question for months.

This time, though, instead of saying, “No, not yet,” I nodded and beckoned for him to follow me outside to my truck, where I dipped into the backseat and pulled out a red-white-and-blue knitted afghan.

Jonah, excitement flitting across his face, wrapped it around his shoulders and swooped back inside, as quick as Superman, to show the afghan to the rest of his family.

My nephew Max, standing nearby, asked, “Will you make me one too?”

I hesitated. It had taken me more than a year to knit Jonah’s afghan, and I was ready to move on to smaller projects. But how could I say no to Max’s request, his expression so serious and voice tentative?

“Of course,” I said, “What colors would you like?”

Soon another red-white-and blue afghan clung to my circular needles. The choice of colors reflected Max and Jonah’s shared love for American history, as well as Jonah’s interest in super heroes. Next came a blue afghan for my niece Kadance, the yarn perfect for an outdoorsy girl with energy as expansive and boundless as the sky.

In a sense, the blankets act as mirrors, a slice of my nieces’ and nephews’ personalities, perhaps even a form of storytelling, an approach to knitting I borrowed from my novella, Blood Stitches. In an early version of the book, the main character, Gabby, snuggles next to Abuela, grandmother in Spanish, as she knits. Together they interpret the yarn: green reflects the color of Gabby’s eyes, and specks of pink become tulips dotting a field. Gabby eventually learns that Abuela’s knitting has a deeper meaning with magical results.

On a smaller scale, it’s an idea that can add a touch of magic to anyone’s knitting, from beginners to experts, making each project unique and memorable and, particularly for children, a way to engage the imagination.

I hope one day my nieces and nephews will understand that the afghans I knit are reflections of them, our shared experiences woven together, memories, I pray, they’ll keep forever.

 

This essay was originally published on Hobby Reads.

Home again from the wilds of the web

The crew from my novella Blood Stitches and I are back from our tour across the webosphere. Esperanza is knitting in her room (no surprise!), Frank and Gabby are flirting in the living room, and Tory and Mr. C are bickering over who gets to make breakfast.

And I’m about to tiptoe away, leaving them to their own devices… at least for a while or maybe forever. After all, we’ve been together for quite some time, years, to be perfectly honest, and it’s time to stop smothering them, give them some breathing space.

It’s been long journey, but well worth it from creation to editing (under the tutelage of the insightful Penny Barber) to publication (an enormous thank you to Renee Rocco and everyone at Kensington/Lyrical) to promotion, which couldn’t have been done without the help of Michelle Forde and numerous selfless bloggers and authors. Of course, it’s not over yet—promotion never really stops–and I hope Blood Stitches finds its way into endless homes, entertaining many with its story of magical knitting.

McCallMTBFor now, though, summer is calling with books to read, rivers to paddle, and trails snaking into the mountains to hike and bike. I can already feel sun warming my skin, see damselflies flitting across shadowy waves, hear the call of loons, and see ferns bristling like dragon tails over hilly woods.

More stories and essays will come, they always do, filling my mind with new characters and settings, pushing their way out through my fingertips. Until then, though, I surrender to the change of the seasons and the wonder of the world, looking forward to closing my laptop for a while and simply observing.

Happy summer everyone!

Bloggers and Book Trailers: Generosity found along the trail

The path to publication rolls through hilly terrain, sometimes bright and sunny, but usually, at least for me, filled with shadowy fingerposts. You see, I have to be just about the slowest writer on earth, easily distracted by books to read, trails to bike, and rivers to paddle.

But one thing on this journey has been a constant: the generosity of my fellow writers and bloggers–always willing to help with constructive criticism, literary tips, or a promotional shout-out.

And now I can add my talented and generous brother-in-law Kevin Radwanski to that list. The following book trailer is his creation, and I think it perfectly captures the spirit of my novella, Blood Stitches:

I am also forever in debt to the following bloggers for giving the book trailer a boost this week:

-Sandra Cox http://sandracox.blogspot.com/

-Ebooks Galore http://nkuhnebooks.blogspot.com

-2 Bibliophiles Guide 2bibliophiles.blogspot.com

-LBM Book Blog http://lifebooksandmore.blogspot.com

-dreamer talks books http://cometomefantasy.blogspot.com

-A Bit Bookish http://www.abitbookish.com

-Ebook Addicts http://ebookaddicts.net

-Indy Book Fairy paranormalbookfairy.blogspot.com

-Amanda’s Blog! http://amandahigelmire.blogspot.com

-midnightangel book heaven www.facebook.com/midnightangelbookheaven

-Spreading the word with Denise&Donna spreadingtheword319.blogspot.com

-Panty dropping Book Blog https://www.facebook.com/pages/Panty-dropping-Book-Blog/295274823946802

-author sandra love http://authorsandralove.blogspot.com/

-shelly’s books http://booksshelly27.blogspot.com/

-A BookAddict’s Delight http://abookaddictsdelight.tumblr.com

-Sapphyria’s Steamy Books http://saphssteamybooks.blogspot.com/

-Literary Nook http://literarynook.com

-Traci Hayden http://tracihayden.blogspot.ca

-Literature Litehouse http://literaturelitehouse.blogspot.com/

-Cu’s eBook Giveaways http://cusebookgiveaways.weebly.com/

-Room With Books http://roomwithbooks.com

-One Book Boyfriend At A Time http://www.facebook.com/onebookboyfriendatatime

-Butterflies Books Dreams butterlfiesbooksanddreams.blogspot.com

-Angee’s Afterthoughts http://www.angeesafterthoughts.com/

 

A Yarn Weaver’s Legacy: Guest posting again on Hobby Reads

“I knit a story about light and fresh air, yes? Warmth and survival.”

These words guide Gabby, the nineteen-year-old protagonist in my novella, Blood Stitches, through the labyrinthine Mayan underworld in which she finds herself trapped. The refrain becomes Gabby’s light, illuminating her escape and filling her with hope.

Originally spoken by her abuela, grandmother in Spanish, the phrase alludes to the magical DNA weaving in and out of their genes. They form an intricate history, a gift from the Mayan moon goddess, Ix Chel, that allows Gabby’s family to knit complex patterns, a story of sorts, complete with plot twists and turns.

“Yarn weaving,” Abuela calls it.

It’s a history not unique to Gabby’s family. Mayan women for centuries have told stories through their weaving, a tradition that continues today… Visit Hobby Reads to view the rest of the posting.