New Project Time

I finally finished my first official knitted project, a fan and feather pattern scarf. It still needs to be blocked, which I’ll do in the next couple of days.


Here it was as it was nearing completion. Definitely has mistakes in it, but I’m pretty happy with it.

And all you crafty types know what that means. A new project! I’m still a beginner, and while I want to do a lot of complex Celtic knot style cables, I’m not there yet.

I started work on a zigzag scarf, but it had a long repeat with complicated rows, nothing I couldn’t do, but we’re having company this weekend and I should try to be able to follow a conversation instead of laser-focusing on the pattern, so I chose the Rolling Meadows scarf, HERE.


I’m using Chroma worsted yarn from Knit Picks, in “Drawing Room,” and I absolutely love the soft colors in this yarn.


And here we go, the very beginning!


In the past, I just did the easy, basic thumb cast-on, but yesterday I learned to do the long tail cast on, which I think will give me a nicer starting edge. It’s curling here, but that should smooth out when I eventually block it. I can’t wait to get to work on it today and get to where I can see the beautiful color blend begin to unfold.

I love to learn at least one new skill with each project, and in addition to the long tail cast on, for this one I also learned ssk (slip, slip, knit), which is a decrease stitch that leans the opposite way of k2tog. Guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. 🙂

What are you working on this weekend? You can share photos with me on the Furwood Forest Facebook page. I’d love to see your current projects!


Did you know if you do an image search for “grumpy golden retriever” or “golden retriever in a bad mood” you won’t find much? This shouldn’t surprise me. Goldens are almost pathologically cheerful. They can pull off sad, or disappointed, or bored, or play-snarling, but it’s not easy to find a grouchy golden.

Why was I looking for a picture of a grouchy-golden? Because I’m in a vile mood today and wanted a photo representation, preferably in dog form. After extensive research (three or four minutes trying various combinations of bad/vile/grouchy dog in a Google image search), this guy is the clear winner and accurately depicts my current outlook.


“Whatever you’re thinking of saying or doing…don’t. Just. Don’t.”

But why? Nothing really unusual here at Furwood Forest today. Awoke to customary puppy-snuggles, it’s not raining, internet is working. Some non-standard and disturbing stuff in the work inbox, I guess, and routine tasks that have a few extra-fun complications involved.

Mainly this, though:


My to-do list is significantly heftier than my motivation, which does present a problem. I find that on days like this, it’s best to unplug, disengage, and do something mindless. Sadly, this is not an option today.

The only plan I can devise is to fire up the brain-focus and get work done so I can then shift into mindless mode and work on my scarf, which is growing quite a bit. It needs to be at least a foot longer, because I want to wrap it around and still have lots of knitted goodness draped down over my front when I wear it.


A better solution would be to follow the dream I had last night–no, not that kind of dream, so get your mind out of the gutter–and go to England to visit my longtime author friend, where we will go shopping and buy pear vodka (which it turns out is really a thing) while I try to figure out if dollars work in the UK.

That sounds like a lot more fun than what I need to do. But alas, England is far-far away across a vast ocean, and a check of air fares for flights leaving today tells me it would cost about $3,000 to hop a plane to London, and that’s before I factor in the price of the pear vodka, which I can assume would be substantial, because I feel like I want a lot of it.

And this concludes the whining portion of the day, or the whinging portion, as they say in the UK–a word I love for some reason, and also I’m working on my British English so I’m prepared when I finally decide to get a passport and go there.

Actually, there’s likely to be a lot more whinging (see what I did there?) but the only ones who will hear it are Mozzie and Oliver, and when they get sick of listening to me, I might finally get a photo of a grumpy golden, and also a standard poodle, filling a definite void in the meme universe.

Classic: Brody The Mouse-Barker

Some of you might remember Brody, our dearly departed Great Pyrenees, patroller of the yard and guardian of all the things. These classic posts took place ten years ago at our house in Minnesota.


Rodent Rescue Part One:

I’m not at my most mentally acute at 5:25 a.m. Or at 6:25. Or, truthfully, 7:25. This morning at 5:25 I was in the shower when I heard Brody barking outside. Admittedly, Brody does bark outside a lot. Every day. Until I go outside and chase his fluffy Pyr-butt into the house before the neighbors call Animal Control.

But this was not his usual guardian-type “Brrrrrrrr-ROO-ROO-ROO!” It was a constant series of short, staccato, emphatic yips, and he sounded a bit agitated. The last I’d seen him, he was near the pool, an area in which he doesn’t tend to spend a lot of time due to the risk of accidentally dampening his paws. Brody isn’t a fan of anything moist, unless it is frozen and piled in drifts in the yard.

I told myself I’d just quickly finish my shower, and then go see what his problem was. Then I got thinking, “What if the big idiot fell in the pool?” He’s never been in there, so he isn’t aware of the stairs at the shallow end as a means of exiting the dreaded aquatic death trap. I began picturing a 100-pound, soaking wet, massively furry, coat-blowing, freaked-out, pissed-off Great Pyrenees who would take until September to dry and decided I’d better get out of the shower and see what was going on.

I wrapped a towel around myself and ventured out to the sliding glass doors, where I observed Brody lying by the pool, front paws draped over the edge, staring intently at something in the water, and barking like a broken record. Clearly, further investigation was in order. I hopped back in the shower to rinse off, then threw on some clothes and headed outside.

It wasn’t hard to figure out what was inspiring Brody’s bark-fest. There was a mouse (or possibly a vole; I don’t really know the difference) swimming in the pool. Actually, he was drowning in the pool. He’d paddle frantically for a few seconds, slip beneath the surface, then fight his way back up. I had to help him!

I’m an animal-lover, obviously. I go out of my way not to kill things, at least as long as they stay in the Great Outdoors where they belong. If this mouse (or possibly vole) were pooping in my silverware drawer, I would immediately set a death-inducing trap to put an end to his intrusion once and for all.

I looked around for the pool net and didn’t see it. I did see the pole on which the net belongs, but the net was nowhere to be found. I stuck the pole in the water, and Mr. Mouse tried to climb up on it, but it was too narrow and slippery, and he kept falling off.

Next, I grabbed a beach towel that was lying near one of the Adirondack chairs, and tossed that onto the surface of the water, thinking he could scurry up onto that and I could pull him out, without having to risk actual hand-to-mouse contact. He did not see the carefully thought-out logic and refused to approach the floating towel.

Finally, I picked up a stainless steel bowl, waited for drowny-mouse to get close to the side, and scooped him to safety. I deposited him in the mulch near the fence, hoping Brody didn’t pounce and eat him. That would have been bitterly ironic after my heroic efforts to keep the little rodent alive. Brody continued to monitor the pool for wildlife, and I watched the mouse (or vole) huddle by the fence and begin to groom himself back into composure.

This was a lot for me to accomplish by just after 5:30 in the morning! Plus, it totally blew my morning routine, and we all know how I thrive on routine, especially in the early morning hours when independent thought is far more difficult than it is later in the day.

I hope Mr. Mouse (or Vole) returns my good deed by staying out of my pantry and silverware drawer. If he is foolish enough to pack up his entire rodent family and move in, I will have no qualms about smushing all their little heads in my decidedly not humane mousetraps. I have rules. Just stay out of my house, and we’ll get along fine.


Rodent Rescue Repeat:

Something suspicious is going on in the rodent world. Once again, before 5:30 a.m., Brody discovered a mouse swimming in the pool. I’m pretty sure it’s a mouse now, because I think voles have shorter tails. I probably need to research that. But if these guys would just stay the hell out of my pool, I’d be spared the necessity of answering this crucial question, which would be fantastic because I really don’t have the time.

This mouse was in much better shape than the one yesterday (if, in fact, it is a different mouse at all), apparently having gone into the drink not too long before he was discovered. Tom had returned the pool net to the patio area, since yesterday it had been downstairs somewhere so he could repair some tears in it.

I scooped mousey-boy into the net and began raising him out of the water. You’d think he’d be grateful, but was he? No, he leaped out of the net and back into the water (which made Brody eight different kinds of crazy) several times before I basically dipped and flung him in the general direction of the fence, where he rustled through the grape vines.

Now I have serious questions. What is going on with these mice? I haven’t fished a mouse out of the pool all summer, and now I’ve done so two days in a row. I have several theories.

  1. This was the same mouse, and he either has suicidal tendencies or was brain damaged in his near-drowning yesterday and returned to the pool as the result of a post-traumatic episode.
  2. These mice were contestants in some kind of rodent reality show, the object of which is to last the longest in the giant, chlorinated ocean. 5:00-5:30 a.m. is prime time for mouse television viewing.
  3. These are teenage male mice, and this is their version of Jackass.

Butch: Hey, Ralphie, bet you can’t swim across that pool, bite the dog on the nose, and then swim back.

Ralphie: Sure I can, Butch, just watch me!

(Splash, paddle-paddle-paddle, gasp, sputter, glug)

Ralphie: Hey, Butch, little help here?

Butch: (Coming from the bushes) Snicker, snort. What a moron.

  1. For some reason, Brody has become the nemesis of all the neighborhood mice, and this is an assassination attempt. They are trying to lure him to a watery death, and the Suicide Swimmer is bait.
  2. They are not mice at all. They are lemmings.

I suppose it could also be a well-planned diversionary tactic, keeping me focused on the back yard while hordes of mice are moving into our laundry room. I hope that’s not it, because I really don’t enjoy tracking mouse-trap casualties on the whiteboard in the kitchen (much). At one point a few years ago it read: “Lori, 11: Mice, 0.”

Ultimately, I just hope Brody’s bladder doesn’t explode. He’s so focused on patrolling the pool for mice that I think he’s forgetting to go out in the yard to take care of necessities. Which, of course, could also be part of the mice’s global dog-destruction plan.

I would feel a lot better if I could decide if these mice are really smart or really dumb. That would help me narrow down the possibilities.





Knitting Right Along

I’m making significant progress on my first knitted scarf. I feel a little less like I need a couple of extra hands, or additional fingers on my original equipment hands, or that my existing ten fingers each need a few fingers of their own. I still have a long way to go before knitting is as natural to me as crocheting, but I have 40 years’ experience with crochet and only a few weeks knitting. The over-achieving perfectionist in me weeps at this realization.


Getting long, but I want to be able to wrap it, so I have a way to go. I imagine I’ll see where I am when I finish this ball of yarn, then decide if it’s done.


In this close-up, you can see the white crochet thread “lifeline.” One of my Facebook friends clued me in to this trick when I had a near-disaster. I’d finished a row and had a disturbingly wrong number of stitches, so I started working back to where I thought the error was, but bungled it to the point I didn’t know which stitches were really stitches and I thought I’d ruined the whole thing.

Fearing the worst, I went all last-ditch-effort and just pulled out a few rows, until I came to a spot where I thought I could see all the loops and meticulously, painfully, anxiously slipped each one onto the needle. Amazingly, it worked.


Good thing, too, because my knit-picky nature will not accept the above as a valid belief system.

Now I’m using lifelines. When I complete a Row 1 in the pattern, I use a blunt needle and some crochet thread and slip it through each loop on the needle. Theoretically, if I screw up again and can’t fix it just by un-working a few stitches, I can pull out everything back to the lifeline, which since it goes through each stitch in the row, will keep me from losing the stitches, allowing me to slip them back on the needle and go from there.

The thought of having to do this makes me hyperventilate a little, but the first time it happens, I’m sure I’ll be glad I have this back-up plan in place.

It sure will save a lot of wailing and swearing and throwing of objects and stabbing-of-things-with-knitting-needles, which is a “win” in my book.

A Day In The Life

It’s Monday again. Back to work for most, but some of us never really stopped.

When I tell people I’m the Managing Editor for a publisher, it’s hard to define what that means, so I thought I’d give it a shot here. I’m kind of exhausted just thinking about it, so let’s see how I do.


The “editor” part is easy enough to understand. I edit books, working with the authors to get them all bright and shiny and ready for publication, both for my Limitless/Crave authors, and a select group of indie authors.

The “managing” part is much harder to describe. In short, I coordinate with a team of authors, editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers, marketing professionals, and the publisher’s executives to move a book through every step in the process, from submission to release.


Honestly, I wear so many hats that most days I am technically nine feet tall. 

My first step every morning is checking email, and what I find there sets the tone for the rest  of the day. Email might include:

  • Receipt of a manuscript I was expecting for my editing schedule
  • Lack of receipt of said manuscript, or an email explaining why I don’t have it and begging for “one more day”
  • An author with a happy announcement
  • An author upset about something
  • An author upset about everything
  • Other team members being upset about the upset author
  • A long email exchange brainstorming new title ideas for a book or series because the original one sucked
  • A completed edit from one of my editors to be sent along to the proofreader
  • People inquiring about openings in my editing department…often misspelled and poorly punctuated
  • Drafts of cover blurbs to be reviewed/revised, and sent to upper management for approval or rejection
  • Exchanges with authors about release dates
  • Someone asking the same question I’ve already answered six times, as well as posting the information in one of our author groups
  • Messages from the cover artists asking where the hell the blurb is for the current project
  • An author announcing they have a great idea for a new series, and should they write it now, before they complete the series in progress? (No.)
  • Discovery that a newly-signed manuscript is 340,000 words, roughly four times longer than we’d prefer, followed by convincing an editor to tackle working with the author to divide it into palatable bits

And that’s just for starters.

I check the contract status report. If new books are on there, I have to log them all and start planning their edits, proofs, and creation of their book cover art and blurbs. If the author is new to us, I have to email them a welcome, list of instructions, and an overview of our editing process. I also have to check the budget, because none of this stuff is free.

I check the cover design status sheet. Once a book has a release date set, it needs to go on this sheet, and I send the assignments to the artists, giving them ample time to complete  the project.

I cross-check all my spreadsheets. Book log (which has columns for every step in the 13348883_10208326038441047_398668350_nprocess), blurb sheet (which shows release date and where we are on the writing of the blurb for the online listings and cover), contract sheet, cover design sheet, budget, release calendar, and my personal calendar. Doing this helps me spot inconsistencies or places I dropped a step along the way.

We have Facebook groups for our authors, promotion, a separate group for the authors with our Crave imprint, a readers’ group for Crave books, a group for the authors in our 13 and Carnival horror anthologies, and a readers’ group for them as well. I need to monitor all these, answer questions, cheer-lead a bit, and occasionally smooth ruffled feathers.

Our anthologies are almost a separate process, and somehow I ended up being primarily in charge of coordinating them. I work with the authors of previous anthologies, our marketing team, and the executive team to decide on a theme for the collection, work out submission, editing, proofing, and release dates, write the call for submissions, receive the submissions as they come in, work with submissions to determine which to include in the anthology, notify the authors (chosen and rejected), add newcomers to the relevant Facebook groups, assemble everything and send to the editor…

Are you tired yet? I am.

I love email and Facebook messages. I’d far rather do all business this way, but our CEO often prefers to call and run through a list of things rather than try to sort through email. Her brain works on approximately 48 tracks at a time at 9000 miles per hour, and shifts direction so suddenly and frequently I have permanent whiplash. There are also a few authors who require lengthy discussions or who comprehend complex conversations better by phone. I do it, but every phone call leaves me dying for a very large adult beverage. (I’m not a phone person. I literally only talk to the husband by phone, and that’s extremely rare, as we usually text.)


Once I’m sure no part of this house of cards is in danger of immediate collapse, I can tackle my own daily editing project. Yes, it’s rare for me not to have an edit on deck. Right now, my first truly open date is in September. I figure out where I need to be in the current edit to remain on track to complete by deadline–because I DO NOT miss deadlines.

While editing, I have to keep an eye on email, because it never, ever stops. With authors all around the world, time zones mean nothing. I used to keep email open all the time, but for my own sanity, I had to start logging out in the evenings, being sure authors know they can reach me by Facebook messages if I’m awake, in case of emergency.


Editorial Assistants Oliver and Mozzie

Don’t forget I work at home, which means occasionally breaking for laundry, unloading the dishwasher, a snack, a shower, letting the dogs in and out and in and out and inandout, feeding the dogs, making dinner, telling the dogs for the billionth time to shut the hell up because the neighbors are actually allowed to enter and leave their own homes, sit on the porch, or drive their vehicles, though they would not be if I had any say in the matter.


Only when email is relatively quiet and I’ve met my editing goal for the day and no dumpster fires are currently in progress can I ease back a bit and do what I do in my off time, which right now is knitting and Netflix. Still, I have to be available for time-sensitive author-wrangling and question-answering, so I use the pause button and stitch markers a lot.

While it can be a bit overwhelming at times, and there’s never a dull moment, I can’t imagine having any other job, unless maybe professional beverage-tester at a beach bar somewhere is an option.

With all this going on, you can probably figure out why I’m unofficially retired from the Author gig and focusing on blogging, though I’m writing a lot more in the blog than I have on novels over the last few years. Which, I think, is how it’s meant to be.

Yarn Stash Busted


Either this is not true, or I’m not a lady. One of those.

As all yarnoholics know, parting with a single skein is akin to giving up a semi-major internal organ, and there’s always so much glorious new yarn to “adopt.” Lace weight, chunky, variegated, wool, bamboo, crochet thread, cotton, alpaca in all the colors of the rainbow.

First it’s a basket. Then a storage container. Then more storage containers and other random receptacles…until it’s out of control.

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been married for almost 35 years, and crocheted for62e1f42d3f808a79d7283d6a480605d5 around ten years before that. Lately, the stash had exploded from the walk-in closet in my office and begun to infiltrate every corner of the house. The couch in the office could barely be seen, there were baskets and bins on the floor, the breakfast bar looked like the discount table at the yarn shop, yarn was spilling off the end table in the family room, and I couldn’t close the lid of my storage ottoman.

I had four storage bins, two laundry baskets, a small wicker basket, a duffel bag, a few boxes, and the storage ottoman bursting with yarn.

Step One, get Handsome Husband to help me haul all the storage containers to the living  room.

Step Two, dump all yarn on the floor. This is reminiscent of what happened in fifth grade when a student’s desk was chronically messy. You’d come to school and discover Miss Vidas had dumped your desk contents on the floor, leaving you no option but to clean it up.


This is after I filled a trash bag with odds and ends that were too small, tangled, or ratty even to donate to the thrift shop.


Hello, Mount Yarn.

Step Three, commence to sortin’.

I started various piles. Cotton, lace/sock weight, worsted, crochet thread, chunky, sport weight…you yarnsters know the drill. This was especially necessary because I had partial balls or skeins of some yarns strewn throughout various locations, and I wanted to match them up so I knew if I had enough of a particular yarn to actually make anything.

Anything I didn’t totally love, or bought for things I never made, or didn’t have in enough quantity for a decent project went in the donation pile. I know people go to thrift shops for remnants or discarded yarn, either to make stashbuster projects, other small items, or to donate to charity.


Big ol’ bag of donations. Included are two partial afghans which could be bound off where they are or finished.

Lots of yellow and orange. I hate yellow and orange. I bought multiple skeins, though, for some project or other that never got made.

Mozzie bolted at the rustle of the first plastic bag, because plastic bags are terrifying. He stayed in the bedroom throughout the process. Oliver, being a poodle, wasn’t about to miss a second, because poodles must observe, evaluate, consider, and process every single thing. Thankfully, he didn’t decide to help.

I applied the rule I give all my authors when I’m ordering them to drastically edit down their word count. Be ruthless. Be objective. You won’t even miss it once it’s gone. Great advice, but hard to follow.

Also, not great on my back, sitting hunched on the floor, crawling around from basket to basket, digging through the mound of assorted yarn. But that’s what ibuprofen is for.

Finally, after sorting through it all and encountering some projects I’d started–no lie–at least 25 years ago and putting sentimentality and unnecessary yarn aside, I reached Step Four, organization. This is what I had…


Behold! A mere two storage bins! The top one has worsted weight and cotton. The bottom has fine and sport weight, crochet cotton, and a bag of assorted Caron Simply Soft. The storage ottoman, which lives in the family room where I spend 95% of my waking hours, has the favorites, new purchases like the glorious mandala yarn, my knit-kit and crochet gear, and the yarns I’m currently using. The two small boxes are the beautiful Chroma yarn I just bought for my first knitting projects.

And now I realize I have room for more yarn…and a coupon for 20% off from JoAnn’s.

Time To Unwind

For most of you, today is part of the weekend. As I’ve mentioned, though, publishing is a 24/7/365 business, so it’s rare to have any real downtime, but I turned in an edit yesterday, a day early. While I have to remain “on call” and monitor email for potential dumpster fires that need extinguishing, this is as close to a day off as I get.

Tom and I have a couple of big household chores we plan to tag-team tomorrow, but I’m more or less caught up for today. While I could get a head start on those tasks, I’ve decided to savor an afternoon with far fewer demands than usual.

Which means knitting and Doctor Who.

Since I’ve been knitting only a few weeks, this is my first official scarf, and only my second real project aside from practice swatches. It definitely has mistakes, but as I know from crochet, part of the learning curve is making mistakes and learning how to fix or minimize them. Overall, I’m happy with the progress.


This is a feather and fan lace style knit scarf, and you can find this pattern HERE. I’m using Chroma Worsted Superwash Yarn by Knit Picks (70% wool, 30% nylon) in “Vermont.” I’m really loving this yarn!

Whatever you’re doing today, remember to take a little time to take care of yourself! We all need a little time to relax and indulge.