Saturday, April 30, 2011

Guest Post: Author Sheila Stewart

A day in the life of a Tulip

Deep beneath the cold ground, Spring awaits its birth. Tulips scattered about throughout the tunnels ache for their release. They know before they have a chance to breathe air, the crocuses will break through first and tantalize the viewers to a promise of warm weather. Oh how they envied the crocuses.

It had been a long cold winter.

Tiny sprigs as they may be, the tulips fight for their survival. Some were not going to make it, those that just weren't strong enough, others who were impatient and gave up, others who weren't planted correctly and weren't able to grow as they should. But she was strong, determined. She was not going to give up.

Stretching her tiny limbs, Calista whispered to her sibling. "How much longer do you think we'll have to wait?"

"That is the tenth time you've asked me that this week. Do I look like I have the inside scoop?" Ruby snorted, turning away from Calista.

She wasn't much liked among her siblings, though Calista had no idea why. She was no different from her siblings other than being a different color. She had the same limbs, the same cup, the same fragrance. Yet they shunned her.

"My brother, Simon, snuck out and he said the ground is still covered in snow."

She turned to the tiny ant cuddling up to her bulb. "Really? How much snow?"

"It came to the knees of the humans. I think we have a long wait ahead of us still." He scurried off and Calista signed.

"Why are you so impatient, Cali? Spring will arrive when it's ready," Ruby stated with a clip in her voice.

"I'm tired of waiting. My limbs are aching to sprout and I'm starting to feel sluggish." She didn't want to feel this way and tried desperately to break out of her gloom. Problem was, it was already the end of March and the snow should have melted faster than it was.

"Yeah, well we all feel the same, but you don't see us complaining."

"Doesn't it bother you that some of our sisters won't make it through this long dreary cold season?"

"That's the way life goes."

"Well, I'm tired of it. I'm tired of year after year, waiting to be born, watching my siblings give up and die. I'm going to make a stand." Where had that come from?

"Sure you are, Cali."

"Will you both keep it down. I'm trying to get some rest," Scarlet Marvel groaned.

"I'm perfectly serious," Calista whispered. "Why should the Crocuses get all the attention in spring?"

"Um, because they're the first to spring into life."

"Sssshhhh!" Scarlet bellowed.

"Well I'm tired of it. I want to be the first for once. I want to break through and be the attention of the humans."

"You'll never survive."

"I'm determined." She would do anything to break free.

"It's your death then." Curling up, Ruby drifted off to sleep.

It wouldn't be her death. It would be her life. Digging deep within herself, Calista willed her sprouts to grow. The ache was well worth it, and little by little, her limbs began to grow. She would break free of her solitude and raise her head high in glory. This was her shining moment. She pushed herself, forced her limbs to grow, forced the bud of life to break out of its shell. She would be the most beautiful of all her siblings, even if she was hated by the Crocuses. Grunting, growing, enduring the labor, the pain, Calista felt the ground give above her. She was doing it. She would feel the air in no time.

The chill began to seep into her stem but she pushed it aside and carried on her journey. Not even the hard ground above her was a deterrent. She pushed, dug, and when she finally felt the ground give, cried out as she broke through.

"You're crazy. You're going to die."

She ignored her sisters and made her final journey into life. Sprouting from the ground, she tilted her head up to the warm brilliant sun above her. It felt so wonderful on her aching limbs. She breathed in the fresh air, smiling to herself as she looked around her new home. Yes, there was snow, but not as much as the ant had stated. Water coated the roads and sidewalks, indicating it was giving in to the heat of the rays above them.

She'd made it and now she was going to enjoy her new found life.

"Sally, Sally, come look at this."

Calista turned her attention to the gentleman rushing toward her. A middle aged women soon came up beside him.

"Is that--"

"Yes it is."

"How is this possible? The ground is still hard from the winter."

"Must be one determined flower."

She felt him dusting the snow that surrounded her away. "We need to keep it alive."

"How will we be able to do that? They're calling for light snow tonight."

No, no more snow, Calista thought in anguish.

"I have the perfect idea."

She saw him run off while the woman sat admiring her.

"You are a beauty. This is a sign, Oliver. Spring is coming."

"Damn straight it is. And this will help at least our little one here."

Calista watched as he set a tall silver stand over top of her. It had a cone like top with a funny bulb like thing inside.

"A heat lamp?"

"Works for the chicks."

Calista blinked as the bulb inside shone with a brilliant bright white light. It felt warm and she titled her head to feel the heat. Now this was life.

"She's our first."

"And we're going to baby her."

Calista watched as the couple embraced while standing over her. She was loved. She had life. Oh how she wished she could tell her sisters of this wonderful gift. Grinning Calista watched the snow around her melt, felt the ground begin to soften and suddenly realized... She was the first.

Once and a while, a thought comes to mind that often amazes us. As was the case with this story. It started out a simple little story about spring and soon it became so much more. It's touched hearts, made people cry and had readers cheering for my precious little flower. I think we can all relate to Calista. Haven't we all, at one time or another, been told we couldn't do something, that we were silly for thinking outside the box? I know I have. In my childhood, I was often ostracized and, told I would never amount to anything. I was stupid. People chuckled at my stories, said it would never amount to anything. Well, here I am now, a multi-published author with readers who love my silly little stories. A day in the life of a tulip is for all those who have been made to feel they were less than normal, for those who have been pushed down and belittled. Know that even in the toughest times, you can rise above it. All you need is a little persistence.

Authors Bio

Raised on a rural farm in Saskatchewan, Sheila Stewart relied on her vivid imagination to fill her days.

Never did she realize that her need to tell a story would someday lead to becoming a published romance author. In the fall of two thousand and six, Shiela published her very first book and hasn't stopped since.

When not writing, Shiela spends time with the love of her life, William and their three children. She has a strong affection for animals which is evident in the five cats, one dog, three turtles and ten fish she owns. Some of her passions aside from writing are drawing and painting and proudly displays her artwork in murals in her home.

Her favorite time of day is sunset and loves to stargaze.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Today is the day I was going to introduce a marketing campaign. ...but I changed my mind.
It's all because of this post: The Business Rusch: Promotion
Much thanks to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, I now know what I must do--write, submit, publish.
Please excuse me while I go write.

Goddess of the Night (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Something--an instinct--nudged me awake. I pushed back the covers and crawled out of bed. A patch of silver light shone on the floor. Silver light... All I could think about was her. Rushing over to the window, I peered out...

I searched window after window and finally found her.

Full, round, beautiful, she was a goddess riding the black sea. She beckoned to me and I couldn't resist. I ran outside.

Though it was a cool night I barely noticed. She cloaked me in her glow and I felt such joy. My hips began to sway and I danced in the moonlight.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Basic knitting tutorial: Mattress Stitch by Leanne Dyck

Okay so imagine that you are finished knitting your hat or sweater. You have seams to sew. How do you do that? Well, (especially for projects such as hats) I like to use the mattress stitch or sew invisible seams. I learnt about this method from knitwear designer Lucy Neatby. Arrange the two edges so that they are parallel.
Thread the yarn tail into a darning needle.
Start sewing at the edge opposite the edge where you obtained the yarn tail. Using the threaded darning needle, weave the yarn back and forth from one edge to another. Ensure the edges remain parallel. Once finished weave in the ends and cut the yarn tail.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Free knitting pattern: Fringe designed by Leanne Dyck

Looking for an unique way to add interest to a tired-looking outfit, I designed the "fringe"

Please note, all the patterns I share on this blog are designed by me.

Yarn: one ball hemp/wool blend or any suitable worsted weight yarn.
Knitting needles: 6 mm/US 10/UK 4
Gauge: 16 stitches x 20 rows = 4 inches (10 cm)

1 x 1 stitch (over even number of stitches)
Row: knit one, purl one--to end of row
Repeat row for pattern

Cast on 30 stitches
Work in 1 x 1 rib stitch for 6 inches (15 cm) or desired length
Cast off loosely in pattern. Sew seam. Add fringe.

Cast on 72 stitches
Work in 1 x 1 rib stitch for 6 inches (15 cm) or desired length.
Cast off loosely in pattern. Sew seam. Add fringe.

How to make fringe:

Cut 132 fringes 12 inches (30 cm) long.

Use a darning needle to thread the fringe.

For best results, thread each edge one at a time. Then turn your work and continue.

For an even fringe, thread into every second stitch.

I thread 30 fringes into each cuff, 72 into the collar.

Happy knitting!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cast off: Basic Knitting Tutorial

Some knitters say "cast off"--others say "bind off". Both are correct, both refer to the method we will be discussing today.
While performing this method, work is divided evenly between the carrier needle (needle held in your left hand) and the working needle (needle held in your right hand). Begin casting off by working two stitch on your last row.
Using the carrier needle, scope the first stitch. Bring this stitch over the second stitch and off the working needle. Continue this method until one stitch remains.

Secure the last stitch by pulling the stitch until it forms a loop.

The loop should be approximately six inches long. Cut the yarn.

Next post: The Sweater Curse playlist

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest Post Author Anne K Albert

How/why did you start to write?

In the late 1980s, I worked as a display advertising sales representative for a small weekly newspaper. That was the very first time I came face-to-face with a computer. I fell in love with the sound of fingertips flying across the keyboard. It may sound silly, but that's what inspired me to write my first book! I still love the sound. It's music to my ears.

How did you become an author?

Ah, that was the hard part! When I began writing my first manuscript I did not have a clue how to go about it. Fortunately, I discovered Romance Writers of America shortly thereafter. Via their monthly magazine, chapter meetings and online groups, I found myself in the midst with real authors. I listened, studied, and watched what they did, as well as how they worked their magic with words. I wrote five completed manuscripts. I also entered writing contests and worked my way up from finishing at the bottom of the entrant lists to placing and eventually winning contests. Finally, I queried agents and editors.

What was your first published piece?

DEFENDING GLORY is the first book of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series. It tells the story of a woman who believes unconditionally in the Lord, and a man who is convinced there is no master plan, no purpose to life, and most certainly no merciful God in Heaven. Of course, when his life and Glory's are threatened, he vows to keep her safe. But can he protect his heart as well?

Where was it published?

Defending Glory was published by Vanilla Heart Publishing in October 2010 in e-book format. The print edition followed in December 2010. It's available at Amazon (
and Barnes and Noble ( as well as other outlets.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I taught high school art, was a stay-at-home-mom for a few years, sold display advertising for a small-town weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now I write full time.
I believe all of my previous occupations are helpful in one way or another for my writing. One needs discipline, persistence, diplomacy, and tact to be a writer!

I also use my past, and especially the emotions I felt during specific events, to help formulate my characters. By observing real people, watching their body language, checking for facial ticks, and listening to the tone of their voice, catching their pet phrases, etc, I translate that information and use it in my stories. Engaging a reader's emotions is what telling a story is all about. It's also, I think, what makes a character memorable and walk off the page.

What inspires you?

I'm always intrigued by ordinary people who are faced with extraordinary circumstances and make not only the best of the situation but inspire us to be the best that we can be. I find that aspect of humanity one of our more enduring qualities.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques?

I'm fairly new to self-promotion and marketing techniques and have no book sale numbers to back this up, but I think blogging (doing it consistently and regularly), guest blogging, visiting, reading and commenting on other blogs, being interviewed and featured on others, as well as participating in blog hops and challenges, has in some small way spread the word about me and my books.

Even if it has not resulted in a single book sale, I have no regrets.

In the short time I've been blogging, I have to admit I now have a serious addiction! I love meeting people from all corners of the globe and from all walks of life. Each of these individuals are communicating, sharing their thought and opinions, and being heard for the first time in history. There are no gatekeepers. Not even dictators can silence the voices. None of these people are celebrities or famous people. The internet has literally changed the course of history. Fascinating, fun, exciting times.

Speaking of interesting times, I'm currently doing the A-Z Blogging Challenge which dictates I post for 26 days during April. Each post must have something to do with the letter of the day. It's been a challenge to write the posts, but it's also been a joy to visit some of the other 1100 plus bloggers who are also taking the challenge. I highly recommend it, both as a visitor and as a blogger. Seriously, I'm going to be sad when it's over and I can't wait to sign up for the next challenge!

Any parting words?

I'd also like to thank you so much, Leanne, for featuring me on your blog today. It's been such fun. I hope readers enjoyed it as much as I have.

(You're most welcome Anne. It was a pleasure having you and I looking forward to visiting your blog in June.)

To conclude, happy reading, and of course, happy writing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Blank Canvas

I've watched with amazement (via her blog) as my friend Terrill Welch has created magic on her blank canvas. This experience inspired me to show you the magic I've created with my blank canvas. (My blank canvas is my pattern Honey Bunny).

These sweaters are destined for ArtCraft on Salt Spring Island. Or, rather, that was my plan. However, this year I will be juried. So, if I continue to sell there is up to them. Your positive thoughts are much appreciated.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Decreasing (basic knitting tutorial)

In simplest terms, decreasing is treating two stitches as one. Slide the tip of your working needle into two stitch loops.
Wrap the yarn around the tip to make a new stitch. Pull the yarn through both loops.

Let the old stitches fall of the needle. Count your stitches. You have one fewer stitch than you had before you began decreasing.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scene On A City Bus (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Scene On A City Bus

They saw me before I saw them. Haggard and worn from a day's worth of work, my mind was pondering another sad weekend spent in my apartment all alone. Dressed to attract in black pants, white shirt, and tie, the gallant peacocks approached. My heart yearned for romance. They smiled and offered a pamphlet--'Jesus saves!' 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finding a pool of creativity by Leanne Dyck

Someone once said, "If I knew where great ideas come from, I'd go there more often." I have yet to solve this mystery. However, I know who is responsible for all of my great ideas--my muse.

My muse is of me, but outside of me. She is linked to the global, eternal wealth of creativity. To nurture her, I must take proper care of myself.

Discipline: I must have structure in my life. So, I keep regular business hours and am open to creativity 24/7. 

Stimulation: I fill my life with the work of others--books, art, music. This inclusion allows my muse to dance.

Concentration: I must be able to focus. In order to do this, I need to control stress factors in my environment. So, I take care of my health and my relationships. 

Enjoyment: I have learned that my muse works the hardest when I am happy. So, in my life, I make room for the positive--through my actions and my thoughts.

Responsive: I listen closely to my muse's call. Whether she calls in the morning, noon, or night I'm ready. Pens and paper are always (usually) easily accessible.

How do you draw from the creative pool?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Yarn Bands (basic knitting tutorial)

Read the Yarn Band


What size knitting needles are recommended to use with this yarn?

read the yarn band


Is this worsted weight yarn?

read the yarn band

The band will be labelled "worsted weight" and/or '3' or '4'.

How do you care for the yarn?

read the yarn band


What is the fibre content?

Is it a wool blend or acrylic? This information is also found on most yarn bands.

How can you avoid unwanted colour stripes in your knitting?

The dye lot number is listed on the yarn band. Match this number in each band to ensure no unwanted colour stripes. Some yarns do not have a dye lot number. All of these yarns are dyed at the same time in huge vats. The theory is that no number is required. Is this just a theory? My experience has been sadlysometimes yes.

Next post: Caring for a muse.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Ones Who Hold Her (short story) by Leanne Dyck

Written in appreciation of the ones who hold me.

The Ones Who Hold Her

She struts around so full of herself--like every stroke, every word is heaven-sent. She thinks she's such a talented artist. Well, she's just a brush.

They grab her by the ankles, turn her upside down, dunk her in paint, and wipe her hair back and forth against a blank canvas. She is just a brush.

If you ask me, the ones who deserve all the credit are the ones who hold her.