Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Meeting a literary agent by Leanne Dyck

At home, to prepare to meet the literary agent, I...
-asked more experienced authors for advice.
-used a search engine to research the literary agent I was to meet.
-worked on my presentation. This was the most daunting task. I wanted to represent myself fairly in terms of my past success, my current project and my future goals. 
-gave my presentation to my writers' group. It was forty-five minutes too long. They suggested I revise it and use cue cards to stay on topic and cover the main points.
-cut fat from my presentation--reducing it to seven minutes.
-did additional research. Fearful that I'd forgotten something, I read writers' magazines.
-developed questions to ask the literary agent.

On the ferry, sailing from Mayne Island to Vancouver Island, I rehearsed with my traveling companion.

Just before meeting the literary agent, I took ten deep breaths and remembered to smile. Thankfully, the literary agent smiled back.

It was a pleasure meeting with her. However, the meeting didn't go as I had imagined. For example, she didn't throw her hands in the air and shout, "Oh, my gosh. I've finally found YOU!" For another, she didn't want to listen to my carefully rehearsed presentation. Instead, she wanted to get to know me. She did say, however, that she was pleased that I was so well prepared. So, I don't feel that the time I spent preparing was wasted.

I was delightfully surprised at how well I conducted myself--smiling was easy and words flowed. Even without my cue cards, I was able to highlight my past successes, current project, and future goals.

At the end of the meeting, she gave me her business card.

I had thought that meeting with a literary agent would be the end of a journey. As it turns out, it's just the beginning.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Knitting: design your own stitch pattern by Leanne Dyck

Have you ever tried to "uninvent" (I say "uninvented" because as Elizabeth Zimmerman pointed out, knitting is so old that it is very hard to invent something new in knitting.) your own stitch pattern? It's fun and easy. Start with a basic stitch pattern--for example, seed stitch.

seed stitch (over an even number of stitches)

Row 1: knit 1, purl 1--continue to end of row

Row 2: purl 1, knit 1--continue to end of row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

Seed stitch is a fun stitch pattern to alter. Here are some of the stitch patterns that I have "uninvented" while playing with the seed stitch.

Here are some ideas you can use to "uninvent" your own stitch pattern.

Combine two stitch patterns.

I combined purl and seed stitch.

Here's what I came up with...

Row 1: purl one, knit one--continue to end of row

Row 2: purl

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern


Experiment with the number of stitches in the stitch pattern.

Here's what I came up with...

Row 1: knit two, purl two--continue to end of row

Row 2: purl two, knit two--continue to end of row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern


Experiment with the number of rows in the stitch pattern.

Here's what I came up with...

Rows 1 and 2: knit one, purl one--continue to end of rows

Rows 3 and 4: purl one, knit one--continue to end of rows

Repeat rows 1 to 4 for pattern


Happy uninventing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Guest Post: Knitwear Designer Janel Laidman

Who taught you to knit?

I learned to knit by watching Danish girls knitting when I was an exchange student in Denmark. They all had been knitting since they were young children and I was too shy to ask questions, so I copied what they were doing and puzzled the rest out of knitting patterns. Because of this I ended up with a few quirky habits. 

What knitting method do you use? Continental? English? 

Well, here's my first quirky habit. I actually do both, although mostly Continental, and I'm also a combination knitter which means my purls are mounted in the opposite direction from most people's. For a long time I couldn't follow patterns very well, because I didn't realize that my combination style affected things like decreases and it never seemed right to do a k2tog or an ssk when the pattern suggested it.

What is your favourite stitch pattern? 

I like to create my own stitch pattern so I guess my favorite is always the one I'm currently working on right now. 

What is your favourite yarn? 

All of it! Well, maybe not all of it. I like different yarns for different projects. I'm also a spinner so I always have the option of creating the exact perfect yarn for whatever I want to do. 

Is there a needle size that you prefer to work with? Bamboo, plastic or steel needles? 

I work a lot with size 0 (US) needles because I knit so many socks. I think my favorite sizes though are the US 3 -- US 5 range. I like different finishes depending on the project. For sock knitting I like a nickel plated needles or the Blackhorn carbon fiber needles. For lace and sweater knitting I like the Darn Pretty Rosewood circulars. For swatching I prefer straights and for that I have a nice set of Lantern Moon needles which are both pretty and lightweight. I have yet to try the Signature needles, but I have a feeling I would like those as well.

What is your favourite item to knit?

Currently it is lace. I also love socks of course, but I have had a very long love affair with lace. 

What are you currently working on? 

I'm currently working on a stitch dictionary of new stitches with tutorial information on designing your stitch patterns. I also have two different sock clubs running the illuminations club which is all stranded colorwork, and the Art & Sole sock club which is sock and other accessory patterns inspired by art. All of these activities keep me pretty busy, but in between I try to get a few other patterns out. Right now I'm working on designing a lace shawl.

Why did you become a knitwear designer? 

Well, I used to be a biochemist, and my job involved growing huge quantities of e.coli. Knitwear design seemed like a much less smelly alternative! Joking aside, I became a knitwear designer because I love designing and I saw an opportunity to try and make a living from it. I also wanted a portable career because I was planning to move to an area without a lot of biochemistry type jobs.

Do you attend fibre festivals? 

I love to go to fiber festivals! I love to see the sheep, watch the dog trails, eat the fair food and buy lovely goods from small business vendors. I used to be a vendor at fiber festivals and so I know that it's a tough job setting up and taking down and selling all day long. I love to support these folks. Plus, you find amazing stuff that you can't find through regular commerce channels.

Have you taught knitting classes? Where? When?

I love to teach. I teach both knitting and spinning and I've taught at Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat, Stitches West, Sock Summit, Knit Nation, SOAR and other places.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being a knitwear designer?

Seeing what other people do with my designs. I love when people take my design and make it their own.


The most challenging part is being a one-woman business. It's tough to wear all the hats, designer, bookkeeper, promo department, secretary, mailroom and more. It seems I'm always behind on something!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Is art validated only if it sells?

On a blog I like to frequent, an author said something along the lines of... If no one buys my book then all the time I spent writing it was a waste.
A few weeks ago a friend said something like... You have to create to fulfill a need inside yourself. If it sells that's fine, but that isn't the bottom line.
So, what do you think? Why do you create? Is it for tangible or intangible reasons?

Update:  in a rejection letter a publisher took the time to write...
'Always remember that the business of publishing is apart from this ancient work of creating, and our decision to publish or not publish your manuscript should not be taken as a reflection or stand against the innate worthiness of creating through the craft of writing.'

Monday, June 20, 2011

Working a sweater pattern on circular needles

Spring Garden

Finished sweater measurements

Bust: 32 (36, 40, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60, 64) inches

Length: 20 (20, 22, 24, 24, 26, 26) inches

Knitting needles: US 10/6.00 mm OR size to obtain tension

Circular needle, two pairs of straight needles

Yarn: worsted weight approximately 700 (800/900/1,000/1, 100/1, 200/1, 300/1, 400/1, 500) yards

Stitch holder: two

Tension: 4 stitches x 7 rows = one inch over seed stitch

seed stitch (over even number of stitches)

Row 1: knit 1, purl 1--continue to end of row

Row 2: purl 1, knit 1--continue to end of row

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for pattern

Note: Worked from bottom up. Bottom section worked on circular needles.

Cast on 128 (144, 160, 176, 192, 208, 224, 240, 256) stitches

Work in seed stitch for 12 (12, 11, 13, 15, 15, 17, 17) inches

Note: Upper section worked on straight needles. Front and Back are worked separately.

Slip 64 (72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128) stitches onto stitch holder.


Work 64 (72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128) stitches in seed stitch for 8 (8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9) inches

Cast off

Note: Slip stitches from stitch holder onto straight needle.


Work 64 (72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128) stitches in seed stitch for 5 (5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6) inches

Scoop neck

Work in seed stitch for 12 (16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44) stitches, cast off 40 stitches, work in seed stitch for 12 (16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44) stitches

Shoulders worked from two balls of yarn

Work 12 (16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 44) stitches from each yarn ball

Work for 3 inches.

Cast off

Sleeves (make 2)

Note: sleeves worked on straight needles

Cast on 64 (64, 72, 72, 72, 72, 72, 72) stitches

Work in seed stitch for 7 inches

Cast off


Sew on sleeves. Weave in ends.

More fun to come with this pattern next Monday.
Next post: The Hook to in a Query Letter

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Staying Encouraged During Querying by Leanne Dyck

Author Elizabeth S. Craig wrote a helpful post for Author Karen Walker's blog Following the Whispers. In this post, she shared strategies for staying positive while querying. Here's the link
Thanks to Tweeter I found it. Now, thanks to blogger I like to reply to Ms. Craig.
Thank you for this helpful advice.
How do I cope?
As well as employing many of the strategies you have listed I...
-remember past successes and marvel at how far I've come in such a short time.
-remember that not everyone (reader, agent or publisher) is going to love everything I write, but they are my words. They have power. I try to seek validation from within.
-remember that writing and submitting takes courage. Each obstacle I encounter makes me stronger.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Knitting: the long and short of altering the sweater

Spring Garden is worked from the bottom up so adjusting the length is very easy. For a longer sweater body, simply keep knitting. For a shorter sweater body, simply stop knitting sooner. The Standards & Guidelines for Crochet and Knitting (compiled by Craft Yarn Council of America) lists hip length as 6" (15 cm) down form waist. Tunic length 11" (28 cm) down from waist.
Sleeves too can be altered. Cap sleeves work for 2". Short sleeves work for 4". T-shirt sleeves 8". Long sleeves 18".
Would you like a deeper neck line? Currently the neck line is 3 inches deep. 5 inches makes a nice deep neck line. In order to deepen the neck line you need to start shaping the neck sooner. You need to calculate when to start the neck. For example, say I want to work a sweater that will be 20 inches long.
20 - 5 = 15 inches
Now I know that I will need to start shaping the neck after working the sweater for 15 inches.
"Deeper, deeper, deeper," You chant.
Sure, why not.
20 - 8 = 12 inches
Contrarily, if you want a more swallow neck line.
20 - 2 = 18 inches
To summarize, simply subtract the neck line from the sweater body length--this will give you the number of inches you will need to work before starting to shape the neck line.
This pattern is found here
What other fun can we have with this sweater? Find out next Monday.
Today I'm visiting Anne K. Albert's blog
Next post: In answer to a very interesting blog post: Encouraging during querying

Friday, June 10, 2011

Guest Post Author Bri Clark

How/why did you start to write?

Because the voices in my head wouldn't shut up. No seriously it was a way of therapy...Turns out some people call it a talent. 

How did you become an author? 

I just kept reading and writing. Then I got my break with Astraea Press and Stone House Ink. 

What was your first published piece? 

The Familial Witch 

Where was it published? 

Astraea Press 

How long ago? 

1 year 

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

I was a realtor/office manager. It has helped as far as being organized and multitasking...and working with a phone. 

What inspires you? 

I am surrounded by other authors via social media and they keep me going.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques? 

Having a consistent blog schedule with worthwhile content. 

Parting words... 

Thank you so much for having me and I love interacting with others so if you see me on Facebook or Twitter say hi.

(Thank you, Bri. It was fun. And we will definitely chat and tweet) 

Author Bri Clark's links... Blog Facebook Twitter Goodreads 

 Book Trailer link

Marie Kincaid suffering the greatest loss a woman can know runs from the pain. Falling asleep deep within the forest she awakes in an infirmary with a loss of memory and a power, she's always possessed yet never known: Glazier. Glazier enables Marie to embark on a new life free of pain but most importantly free of the past. Heightened senses, accelerated strength, speed, and learning abilities make Marie a perfect candidate to be a spy...also a perfect companion for Henry Tenison...the only other known Glazier. Henry, a loner and proud rogue finds his world upended when his connection to Marie is forged through Galzier. Unsure of how to progress with any relationship with her he endeavors to keep it strictly platonic and professional. As far away, missions and romantic surroundings entice him into pursuing his deeper desires he caves. However, Marie's love changes everything. Determined to free them both of the spy world and hold Abram their superior has over them Henry implements a plot to disappear. However, when things become dangerous in their latest mission, their first undercover, and memories of Marie's past surface suggesting another man...will Henry's efforts prove to come too late? If Marie remembers her past, will she still want their future?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Crime Writers of Canada conference by Leanne Dyck

We arrive at the Hotel Grand Pacific--site of the Bloody Words writers' conference. Bloody Words is the largest gathering of crime writers--and related genre--in Canada.


I attended this conference with my friend Amber Harvey. She has an informative post regarding the conference on her blog.

Conference organizer Lou Allin prepares to introduce William Deverell

Canadian author William Deverell is interviewed by Adrain Chamberlain

Some of what I learned...

-write what you know

-don't be afriad to junk great chapters if they don't fit

-to be a successful author you have to want it really badly

-read a lot

-learn the craft

-William Deverell begins each day by re-writting

-don't wait for your muse

-avoid overwriting

-use an outline to guide you

-get to know your characters

Grant McKenzie interviewed the international guest of honour Tess Gerritsen

'medicial suspense queen' -publisher weekly

Some of what I learned...

-readers want to know secrets

-to write well you need to read a lot

-find an emotional charge to ignite your story

-half-way through writing your story you'll want to walk away--don't

Remember: you can fix a bad page, but not a blank page

-successful authors need to write a book a year (at least)

-there's no one right way to write--what works for you works for you

Michael Slade's Shock Theatre

a recreation of 1940s radio play

Monday, June 6, 2011

Knitting Spring Garden

Late again today. I was busy working on my WIP.
Thanks to my meeting last weekend with a literary agent, I now know that Turning is a YA. One of the things I worked on this morning was a new blurb for this work.

Lyndi Wimpel is bored she wants a boyfriend, an adventure, a life.
Flipping through a magazine she spies an ad for a youth group. She wants to join.
What stands in her way?
Lyndi's mother, fearful for Lyndi's safety, wants her to stay close to home.
Lyndi has her own doubts. She feels that dyslexia has rendered her stupid and socially inept.
What will Lyndi do?

This week promises to be interesting.
Wednesday and Thursday I will be on Salt Spring Island delivering my inventory to ArtCraft.
Saturday I will be sitting a booth at Mayne Island's farmer's market.
This morning I reached a word count of 49, 958 words on Turning.

Today, let's talk a little more about knitting Spring Garden
Access knitting instructions here

One thing you need to determine is your size.
This top is designed to have a ease of about two inches. This simply means that if you have a breast size of 46" than you should use the instructions listed for size 48".
Once you have identified your size. Use a highlighter to mark all the information that pretains to your size.
Happy knitting,

Next post: come with me to Bloody Words