Category Archives: Alongs

Dear Charles de Lint…

Welcome to the May 29th stop in the Author Fan Letter Blog Crawl that Kassa organized to celebrate the authors who have been important to us! And make sure you visit Kris’n’Good Books tomorrow so you can read her author letter.

Dear Charles de Lint,

Back in the mid-90s, I discovered your short story collection Dreams Underfoot, which was my introduction not only to your writing and to the fantastical, fictional Canadian city of Newford that you created, but also to the world of urban fantasy. I was both enchanted and transported by the stories in that book, and I picked up everything you’d written that I could get my hands on.

You’ve written many more books since then, but the Newford books remain my favorites. I love that the city is as much a character as any other, making this some of the most truly urban fantasy I’ve read. I love how you skillfully weave European and Native American mythology together, so effectively that when I’ve finished reading one of your books, I’m more than half-convinced I can see hints of the magical out of the corner of my eye. I love how real your characters feel, and how effortlessly you have me caring and worrying about them. I love that the main characters from one book will show up as background characters in other books. I love that you see both the darkness and the light in people, yet your books leave me hopeful.

Often, when I read your books, I find myself jotting down sentences that particularly move me. Here are just a few that I’ve saved over the years:

Look inside yourself for the answers – you’re the only one who knows what’s best for you. Everybody else is only guessing. – Trader

Magic’s never what you expect it to be, but it’s often what you need. – Moonlight and Vines

Tattoos…are the stories in your heart, written on your skin. – The Mystery of Grace

“Well, I may not be so good at interacting with the world at large,” Suzi said, “but I’m sure about this much: It doesn’t matter where any of us come from, or even what we look like. The only thing that matters is who we are now.”

“That’s pretty good,” [Christiana] said finally, looking back at Suzi. “It puts the onus on yourself, instead of on where you came from. It suits what I like to think of as my independent temperament with the added bonus of making good sense. How can your genetic history or even your past ever begin to compete with who you are today?”

Suzi took that as a rhetorical question, so she didn’t worry about an answer. – Spirits in the Wires

Thank you for introducing me to urban fantasy – your books helped me discover that I wasn’t completely burned out on reading fantasy; I was just burned out on reading the traditional stuff. I hope that I can always hold on to the sense of wonder and hope you helped me rediscover.

P.S. And, um, I really wish I was one of the Crow Girls. 🙂

If you found my letter intriguing and are curious about Charles de Lint’s books, you have a chance to win a (somewhat battered) paperback copy of one my favorites, Someplace To Be Flying. (Yes, the Crow Girls are in it!) CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Lily is a photojournalist in search of the “animal people” who supposedly haunt the city’s darkest slums. Hank is a slumdweller who knows the bad streets all too well. One night, in a brutal incident, their two lives collide–uptown Lily and downtown Hank, each with a quest and a role to play in the secret drama of the city’s oldest inhabitants.

For the animal people walk among us. Native Americans call them the First People, but they have never left, and they claim the city for their own.

Not only have Hank and Lily stumbled onto a secret, they’ve stumbled into a war. And in this battle for the city’s soul, nothing is quite as it appears.

Contest Rules

  • To enter, leave a comment stating that you are entering the contest. CONTEST IS CLOSED.
  • If you haven’t commented before, your comment will not be visible until after I moderate it. Please do not leave a second comment because your first doesn’t show up! The blog gnomes will decide your comments are spam and then only ritual dust bunny sacrifice will salvage your entry…
  • If your comment is actually an advertisement or if your CommentLuv link turns it into an advertisement, your comment will be deleted. (Most of you do not need to worry – this refers to some pretty clever comment spam.)
  • Winners will be selected by random number.
  • You must leave a valid email address in the “Email” portion of the comment form.
  • Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from!
  • If a winner doesn’t respond to my congratulations email within 48 hours, I will select another winner.
  • This contest is open worldwide!

In which I reveal how to pronounce “quinoa”

The Knitting Doctor is celebrating her five-year blogiversary with a contest! Simply leave a comment about your favorite knitting gadget before midnight PDT, April 5, for your chance to win a mysterious prize.

Sign ups for the Mean Girls Yarn Club, put together by KnottyLa and KnittingKnitterton, open April 3.

This was my favorite April Fools Link from yesterday: Fiction World Rocked as Woman Claims No Sexual Attraction to Neil Gaiman.

Yes, reduced to posting recipes again. 😉

These cookies were originally made with oatmeal – I know you can get oatmeal now that’s certified gluten-free, but my body isn’t so happy with the stuff I’ve tried so far. Besides, quinoa (KEEN-wah) has more protein and is more fun to say than oatmeal!

Unbaked Chocolate Quinoa Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup milk (I haven’t tried it with soymilk yet)
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter in a saucepan. Melt over medium heat, then boil for 1 minute. (Keep stirring!)

Remove from heat. Add quinoa, vanilla, and peanut butter and mix well.

Drop by spoonfuls on waxed paper and let cool.

“Go away. I’m sulking. You’d think Mayhem was the only one with a cute tummy or something. Hmph.” -Chaos

Fourth Annual Blogger’s (Silent) Poetry Reading for the Feast of St. Brigid

More details over at ambermoggie’s blog and at branches up. (The poems I’ve posted in previous years: 2006, 2007, 2008.)

This poem by John Ashbery (1988) is the inscription on Siah Armajani’s Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge (Walker Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis).

And now I cannot remember how I would
have had it. It is not a conduit (confluence?) but a place.
The place, of movement and an order.
The place of old order.
But the tail end of the movement is new.
Driving us to say what we are thinking.
It is so much like a beach after all, where you stand
and think of going no further.
And it is good when you get to no further.
It is like a reason that picks you up and
places you where you always wanted to be.
This far, it is fair to be crossing, to have crossed.
Then there is no promise in the other.
Here it is. Steel and air, a mottled presence,
small panacea
and lucky for us.
And then it got very cool.

“That was nice, Mom.” -Chaos

In which there are no “happi colord blankits” at all

Congrats to lucky numbers 15, 19, and 33 (aka Kathy, K, and Cheryl)! Many thanks to everyone who participated in Chaos’ birthday contest. 🙂

Jen’s giving away a skein of Yarn Pirate sock yarn – simply leave her a comment by 11:59 pm on October 13 for your chance to win.

Knit Witch is having a ghost story contest. Send her your ghost story by October 31for your chance to win some Knit Witch yarn.

That Yarn Harlot, she definitely knows how to come up with a very challenging contest

Does this cartoon resonate with anyone?! *a-hem* The extremely technogeeky and knitterly (*a-hem*trek*a-hem*) might enjoy this cartoon

Hmm, do you think I should get a “happi colord blankit”?

How true is this spoof cover of The Economist?! (May not be suitable for work if someone’s lurking behind you.)

For fans of Lilith Saintcrow, she has a free Saint City novel up on her website. Please note that this novel (Selene) takes place immediately after Saintcrow’s short story in the collection Hotter than Hell (and was one of the few stories I actually liked in that collection).

If you’re a fan of paranormal romance/fantasy, you might enjoy Blitzen Trapper’s new song “Furr” (link near bottom of blurb), described as an “alt-country werewolf ballad.”

*snicker* True, true, the Lord of the Rings is definitely an exception to this one… except for all the songs in the books.

Reading Update
Nip, Tuck, Dead and Dead on Arrival (Pauline Sokol Mysteries, Book 5-6), “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” from Sugarplums and Scandal, plus another short story called “Dr. Robin Hood” by Lori Avocato. Still very, very evocative of Evanovich, although the “Joe” character seems to be a moving target with each book. The end of Dead on Arrival was really weird – the book ended, and then a nonsensical epilogue was tacked on to it. Did some more research and discovered that this series is between publishers right now.
Bad Blood (Crimson Moon, Book 1) by L.A. Banks. If 24 mated with the X-Files and had a werewolf episode…
Time and Again: Time Was & Time Changes by Nora Roberts. Ok, ok, I didn’t return all of those Nora Roberts books… How could I resist these two related novels about time travel?
A Taste of Darkness (MacKenzie Vampire, Book 3); Wicked Nights, Wicked Pleasure, and Wicked Fantasy(Castle of Dreams Trilogy) by Nina Bangs. Light’n’fluffy’n’racy paranormal romance, complete with decent writing and an ongoing storyline – start with Wicked Nights (before any of the MacKenzie Vampire books even).
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. Very well-written teen urban fantasy – if the passivity of Bella and creepy stalker nature of Edward (Twilight) don’t seem like good teen reading for you, check out this novel. No vampires in this one.
A Date with the Other Side by Erin McCarthy. A bit reminiscent of Jennifer Crusie, with some ghosts tossed in.
The Becoming (The Anna Strong Chronicles, Book 1) by Jeanne C. Stein. Meet Anna Strong, a bounty hunter recently turned into a vampire. Looking forward to the rest of the series after this strong start! Highly recommended.

“Since I don’t have a ‘happi colord blankit,‘ I’m hard at work on my next evil plan.” -Chaos

In which the link thing gets completely and totally out of hand

It’s time for Jane’s Fourth Annual Show Me Your Socks Contest! Check out the details and drool over the gorgeous prizes (sock yarn, of course) donated by Numma Numma. Contest closes at midnight EDT, September 28.

BrainyLady Alison’s giving away a copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. For your chance to win, leave her a comment (by September 29) about what your favorite knitting book was this year.

Sarah’s having her preemie hat knitting contest – sign up on her blog if you’d like to knit some preemie hats.

Yesterday’s post inspired Michaele to share this link to a short video about the very cool bike racks former Talking Heads’ frontman David Byrne designed for New York City. Thanks, Michaele!

On Saturday, September 27, the Smithsonian is sponsoring Museum Day – you can “enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to hundreds of museums and cultural venues nationwide.” Some of the participating locations in Minnesota include the Minnesota Zoo and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

If I had seen these signs, I probably would’ve been laughing too hard to take pictures…

Can’t you just picture Mayhem in this particular lol? (Although I suspect that a kung fu mouse would make her very happy!) I thought these two lolz went well together.

Last weekend, Lifehacker’s Ungeek to Live column was about how to fit reading into your life.

Ewwwwww! Clever, though.

So, what’s your personal fairy? Jeanne thinks mine is the parking fairy. Can’t argue there – I’m always bemused when I don’t get rockstar parking, because it so often just happens. I could also make a case for the book fairy. Here’s an example – when I embarked on my rereading of all the Dark-Hunter/Dream-Hunter novels project last week, I used the Minneapolis Public Library catalog to figure out how to get all the books via the minimum number of close libraries. Over two days, I stopped at four different libraries (all within four miles of me): Walker, Hosmer, Washburn, and Linden Hills. As I was driving down 50th Street from Washburn to Linden Hills for the last few books, I had the twitchy urge to stop at the Paperback Exchange (not one of my usual haunts). They had a single Dark-Hunter novel, which I purchased even though my list showed it to be at the Linden Hills Library. When I got to Linden Hills, guess which Dark-Hunter novel was not to be found? Yup. I get that little twitchy urge for both used bookstores and thrift stores and it’s usually right on target.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

“Go away! Quit pretending you can see me!!” -Mayhem

Third Annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading for the Feast of St. Brigid

Today is the Third Annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading for the Feast of St. Brigid. (Year One; Year Two)

A Smell of Cordwood
Pablo Neruda

Later, when stars
opened out to the cold,
I opened the door
on an ocean
of galloping hooves.

Then from the dark
of the house, like a hand,
that savage
of wood on the woodpile.

An odor
that lives
like a tree,
a visible odor.
As if cordwood pulsed like a tree.

made visible

A visible
breaking of branches.

I turned back
the house
in the circle
of darkening
a sparkle
of motes in the sky,
like lodestones.
But the wood-smell
took hold of
my heart,
like a hand and its fingers,
like jasmine,
like a memory cherished.

Not harrowing
not that way,
not slashed
not like
the green
exhalation of arbors —
something more recondite,
a fragrance
that gives itself
once, and once
among all things visible,
a world
or a house, a night
by the wintering water;
that awaited me there,
occult in the smell,
of the rose,
an earth-heart plucked out,
that struck like a wave,
a sundered
and was lost in my blood
when I opened the door
of the night.

Linkity linkity link

Don’t forget that Saturday, February 2, is the Third Annual Bloggers’ (Silent) Poetry Reading for the Feast of St. Brigid. (Year One; Year Two)

Sock Madness 2 is just around the corner – you can already get updated buttons on the blog!

Lucy of the Free-From Blog has a great list of gluten-free knitters – go add yourself if you’re a gf knitter who isn’t on her list!

Nice article on Pet Connection about cats – my favorite quote is “‘Cats are not as domestic as you might think… They are probably allowing you to live with them, not the other way around.'” Hence Fraro’s brilliant description of we cat “owners” as “catstaff.”

Speaking of Fraro, she sent me this link yesterday – does it remind you of any particular kitty you know?! And then she sent me this link. Hee hee – that is exactly what Chaos and Mayhem would email or IM me while I’m at work.

And then, continuing the cat theme here, Eklectika sent me a link to an adorable tea set.

And then Lisa sent me an amusing link on how to make a “cat burglar joule thief.”

Oy – was I radiating “send me links!” vibes yesterday or what?!

I think I’ve done this one before, but hey, since I’m not reading the same book… Open the book you’re currently reading, turn to page 161, and copy the fifth sentence on the page:

“Beats the fuck out of me, but it’s not a squid.”

And there you have it. What? The book? You want to know what book? Oh. Ok – Long Hot Summoning (The Keeper’s Chronicles #3) by Tanya Huff.

“Cheesecake? Who you calling cheesecake?!” -Chaos

“Beefcake? Who you calling beefcake?!” -Chaos

Sometimes geeking can be woeful

Don’t forget about Super International Pajama Day, coming up on February 3!

Many thanks to Jeanne and pao for assisting me with some blog woes over the weekend! The blog seems to be working fine again – whew! (I do admit to pestering Jeanne with the Yarn Harlot’s famous words: “Blog broken. Make blog go?”)

Also, in an effort to reduce comment spam, I’ve turned off commenting for posts more than 60 days old. Hopefully this doesn’t inconvenience anyone. 🙂

Reading Update
Heart of Stone: The Negotiator Trilogy, Book 1 by C. E. Murphy. This is the start of a new series by Murphy, and it was a very good read. Legal Aid lawyer Margrit Knight discovers that there’s more going on in NYC than she would ever have realized. This book has a dragon, a djinn, two selkies, a whack of gargoyles, and one vampire. (It’s ok, CarrieK – it’s definitely not a vampire novel. You’ll be ok. I promise.)
Web Mage by Kelly McCullough. This is an interesting premise – imagine that there’s also an mweb (magic web) in addition to the regular stuff on the internet… Sorceror and relative of the Fates Ravirn is just trying to get through the University of Minnesota’s CompSci program, so how did his life get so complicated?
Holidays Are Murder: A Maggie Skerritt Mystery by Charlotte Douglas. I continue to enjoy this low-key series about Pelican Bay, Florida, police detective Maggie and her former (police) partner, Bill. Since this series is published by a division of Harlequin, you may find them in the romance section instead of mysteries…
Key of Light by Nora Robert. This first book in the Key Trilogy was pretty good. Three modern women must solve an ancient puzzle while an evil sorceror attempts to thwart their efforts.
Hex Marks the Spot: Bewitching Mystery, Book 3 by Madelyn Alt. Maggie learns about Amish hexes when a local Amish craftsmen is found murdered.

Knitting Update
My black Velvet Touch “Scrunchable Scarf” continues to grow – and continues to be too unexciting to photograph. It is extremely soft and I’m quite happy with it.

*zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…* -Chaos

“Wha……..?” -May

Did someone mention stripey socks?

Wanda’s having a birthday card exchange – check out the details if you like to get cards on your birthday but don’t seem to do so in our electronic age.

Back in June, when I was in Denver at Michaele’s place, I started a pair of stripey socks, from Meilenweit Colortweed. I’m kind of glad I’ve been distracted by Sockamania socks since then so that I didn’t finish these socks until this past weekend because this is a perfect Project Spectrum colorway (orange-purple-brown)!

“These are, of course, for me.” -Mayhem

“Don’t you be telling me they aren’t for me!” -Mayhem

“Because I really, really like these socks. I will love them and hug them and call them stripey socks!” -Mayhem

“See? I hug them! And hug them again!” -Mayhem

A contest of dubious value (along with some perfectly fine contests, a swap, and more!)

Running a bit late today, aren’t I? I wrote my post Monday evening as per usual, but when I got to work this morning (where I proof and publish), our building didn’t have any power. After two hours, we were sent home – something about 20 transformers being down. Glad to be home in the air conditioning, because it’s going to be a hot and sticky day in the Twin Cities.

Anyway! At the end of May, I dyed a lot of yarn, most of which was destined to be gifted to various knitbloggers during my vacation. However, one very pretty skein of sock yarn (the blue and black skein in the previous link) was unable to fulfill that destiny due to an extremely unfortunate accident. (Well, I saw it as an accident. For Mayhem, it was an intent.) When that blue and black yarn was hanging in the bathroom drying, I heard a mysterious soft “thwoomp” from the bathroom. By the time I realized I should probably investigate that sound, it was too late – May had pulled down the yarn and her sharp teeth were snickity-snicking through a number of the strands, turning the skein from “Blueberry” to “Biteberry.”

“Enough with the accusations. Would I do something like that?! Look at how sweet and cute I am!” -Mayhem

This yarn needs a very special home. If you think you can provide that home and not mind dealing with the additional 12 or so ends that Mayhem created, please send an email to my contest line before 6 pm CDT Friday, July 20. (Hey, I said it was a somewhat dubious contest!) (Additional yarn vital stats – the base yarn in Kraemer Jeannie, a superwash wool and nylon blend. Prior to biting, there were around 470 yards.)

On to some less dubious contests – the Heathen Housewife is giving away a copy of Victorian Lace Today and a skein of laceweight yarn. Leave her a comment with your email address before 8 pm CDT, July 20.

Ruth is having a contest – in her comments, leave a link to your first and 100th blog posts, or if you don’t have a blog, to the blog post that really got you into reading blogs. Contest closes midnight MDT, July 20, and the prize will be yarn and “baubles.”

If you’re interested in dyeing and swapping sock yarn, there’s a hand-dyed sock yarn swap on swap-bot. Deadline to sign up is August 10 and deadline to send is September 30.

Reading Update
Love Bites by Lynsay Sands. Um, I can’t believe I actually read this. Paranormal romance at its most trashy and poorly written. You have been warned!
Thunderbird Falls and Coyote Dreams by C.E. Murphy. I enjoyed books two and three of the Walker Papers (about neophyte urban shaman and police officer Joanne Walker) as much as I did the first. Hopefully Ms. Murphy is busily writing, because I want to find out what happens next! (For those who are reading this series, there’s sort of a book 1.5 between Urban Shaman and Thunderbird Falls – the novella “Banshee Cries,” which can be found in Winter Moon.)
Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke. The latest Hannah Swensen mystery is par for the course – kind of simplistic and contrived… but I keep reading them, maybe because they’re set in a fictitious Minnesota town.

Curious about what I got up to over the weekend? Miss T and Deb have documented the event very well! Thanks, Miss T!

The Guardian has an interesting article about splogs (spam blogs that steal content to generate ad dollars).

Some time ago, KnitNana sent me a postcard that reminded her of Chaos.

What do you think? Can you see a resemblance?

“Pooey on you, Mom. I am so much more handsome than that poser!” -Chaos