25 September 2008

My colleague

I have a whole one puzzle writing colleague, the delightful and kind Greg Parker, otherwise known as The Puzzle Wizard. I've visited him in Brisbane a couple of times now, stayed with his lovely family, and he's been down to Canberra a few times too. It's a real treat to be able to talk shop with him - there's not many I can do that with! We occasionally bounce questions off each other during our working days (such as how to write a good clue for CAPON that avoids having to use the word castrated (which is not acceptable clue vocab)?!).

Several years ago I asked him for puzzle writing work, which he couldn't offer me, but he did need a graphic designer! I started designing the covers for his World of Crosswords series with Issue 30, and developed the new Puzzle Wizard character ... I'm hoping to start designing his Crossword Magic covers soon too. And I redesigned his web site earlier this year. This is the only "graphic design work for clients" that I still do.

Anyway, I just wanted to show you a cover that I'm really happy with, it was one of those "Damn, I'm running out of time" designs, and is so often the case, it all came together really quickly and effectively! As this is the 9th anniversary edition, there are nine 9s on the cover, and nine 9s on the back! This issue should still be in the newsagents for a while yet. I can highly recommend his series of puzzle books ... quite different from the big publishers' books, with excellent clues.

OK, back to work ...!

ETA : Yes, I wrote The Canberra Puzzle Book, Junior Canberra Puzzle Book, The Fantastic Flying Doctors' Puzzle Book, Alice Springs School of the Air Puzzle Book, and the Amazing Animals Puzzle Book (for the RSPCA). And yes, it is very cool seeing covers I designed on the shelves!

22 September 2008

Announcing ....

I'm allowed to tell you what I'm going to be writing now, after my conference call with my editors Erin and Sarah tonight (which went really well)!

(Drum roll please) ...

My new book is Word Searches for Dummies, to be published by Wiley USA.

It will be a 432 page book of about 250 word searches, of all sorts (including some I've invented), from easy to hard. There will be some text about word searches, how to do them (not that hard, let's face it), and some strategies for solving word jumble type games (like Boggle). Plus more stuff!

Due to be released in the USA/Canadian market in April 09!

This book is a direct follow on from my work as Technical Editor on Brain Games for Dummies ...

Damson Hemlock

Some quick knitting content!

This is the Hemlock Ring Rug which I'm knitting for a friend in Tassie ... really enjoying this pattern! I'm using the version as corrected by The Rainey Sisters, and have had no problems so far.

In just about a week I've started and got to the start of the feather & fan section (around row 46 or so). These two photos aren't great (taken at night with flash) ... but you get the idea! Is pretty!!

It's all a bit lumpy now, but will flatten beautifully once it's washed and blocked :)

This is a more accurate photo of the colour of the lovely Rustic 12 ply (Damson colour). Oh yeah, I showed you that before. Ooops. Brain is a tad fried at the moment ...

Conference call with my Acquistions Editor, and being introduced to my Project Editor (who I'll work closely with throughout the book writing process) in 4 hours (11pm my time, 9 am theirs)! Am a bit nervous ...

20 September 2008

Argyle socks

Just a quick one - had to share this Mutts comic with you ...

I had a lovely birthday yesterday, many thanks to everyone who sent me birthday wishes, cards and even pressies (yes, there was some special yarn!!). Another 'gift' was my author's contract arriving by FedEx from the USA!

Dinner at my sister's home was a real treat - she and her husband and little boy are recently back in Australia after many years living in London. It's just wonderful having them nearby again!

Still not frightfully well ... bugger it.

15 September 2008

The best cactus of all

I've been meaning to share this with you for ages - Hubby was given this mini knitted beauty on his birthday - it doesn't need even occasional watering (yes, he can kill a cactus)! A great use of fluffy yarn. The whole thing is about 6 cm tall (including the tiny ceramic pot). It looks remarkably real!

This arrived today - mmmmmmmm. Bendigo Rustic 12 ply, in Damson. What a glorious colour! This is destined to become a Hemlock Ring Blanket for a friend I made at Quest. J lives in Tasmania, where it's very chilly; she's not able to knit (CFS / sore hands), and asked if I could make a purple lap rug for her. I am happy to oblige!

In work news, we're sorting out my author contract this week, and I hope to find out who my Project Editor is (they're the main person I'll work with on the book). I've also become a professional member of the Australian Society of Authors, and tomorrow is my first day at the Nasho :)

ETA : The story behind the cactus - the mother of one of my sister's London friends made it. Sadly, she died recently, and her daughter found new homes for all her knitted cactus creations, and my sister was given this one. And then my sister gave it to my husband.

Working the Nasho wasn't so good today - the corrals with power (for laptops) are packed, and right next to where the library is being extended, ie a construction site. No nice view, not quiet. I also was falling asleep, and came home and went to bed (sick). Bleah.

10 September 2008

Welcome Purl

I saw my surgeon this morning, and I'm officially on The List for a full hip replacement. It could be as long as a year wait, so nothing is imminent. I'm feeling really good about the decision, much happier. Hip is getting more painful by the week, so I'm ready to do something about it. It will be an Exeter ceramic-on-ceramic prosthesis (shown below).

The operation and recovery will be less straightforward than a standard hip replacement for someone with a normal hip who 'just' has osteoarthritis - my whole pelvis, hip joint and femur are very unusual / mangled, and it will be a challenging operation. Higher risk of complications too. Dr Smith might be able to fix my leg length difference, but it is a secondary consideration - having a secure prosthesis is more important.

And please welcome the lovely Purl, who arrived this morning - my new white 2.4 GHz, 2 Gb MacBook! She has joined me so I don't have to be chained to my desk for the next 4+ months - working in the living room is a nicer environment, but I'm mainly planning on working a day or two each week at the National Library, in their Reading Room, away from the Interbets (which is a big distraction), and other procrastinations like my family, chores, and phone calls. The Nasho is just one bus ride from my door - but a long bus ride (stealth knitting time!!)

Along with Purl, I have a new mini graphics tablet (ie portable) - a Wacom Bamboo tablet, which is divine. It's black and cooool. I've used Wacom tablets for years - they are brilliant. Much easier on my hands than a mouse.

We're into talking author contracts this week ... no deadline extension is possible, so I'll be working over Christmas - guess it's a good excuse to do less ;)

OK, back to the coal face! And if anyone's down Tuggeranong way this Saturday (13 Sept), do come along to the Tuggers Stitch'n Bitch - 2-4 pm at Coffee Guru at the Anketell St entrance to the Hyperdome - Dotter and I will be there, and would love to see you!

PS Isn't it a cool date? 10 - 9 - 08 !

06 September 2008

Hello and Good-bye

What a week it's been!

Dotter's relationship has broken up, so Lovely Boyfriend has moved out ...

Hubby finally has a diagnosis for what's made him bedridden with pain this year (this is on top of his 'baseline' of CFS) and has started treatment ...

My main specialist thinks I should have the total hip replacement done soon, so that's back on the agenda (but I'm not feeling quite so terrified of it any more) ... am discussing it with him further next week ...

We had a visitor or two - here's Dotter with baby Grace, who is clearly complaining about Dotter nicking her gorgeous red and grey Pi Blanket (draped around her shoulders).

And last but definitely not least, in a life-changing event, I got the book deal! I can't say what the title or publisher is in public unless I get the OK from them ...

The submission deadlines are horrendous, and in addition to my regular puzzle commitments to my syndicator, so that accounts for the 'Good-bye' in this title; I'm going to be largely absent online until January (unless I'm procrastinating, in which case you can tell me off). I'm going to try to keep weekends free of work, but Jejune Days have to be suspended for the time being. Maybe I can manage a few Jejune Hours now and then during the days ...

And now something to distract you - knitting! (You knew I was going to say that, didn't you?!)

Spring Forward socks from Knitty. Actually using the yarn specified for the project (faints) - Socks That Rock, lightweight, in Corvid, a gift from Bells earlier this year. Loving this yarn, it's delightful. Nice easy pattern - effective and simple to do. Socks for me, at last. And long overdue, my other handknit socks are wearing out!

The Medallion Wrap (Rav link) by Norah Gaughan - using leftover Bendy Alpaca (from Mariah). My first Norah pattern, and my first Vogue Knitting pattern! Instead of knitting each medallion separately, I'm picking up the 16 stitches for each side when I do the cast on for the next medallion (as they're knit from the outside in). Look Ma, no seams!

And finally, a Pi Are Square Shawl using leftover Rustic Red Tweed from my jumper, and just knit in garter stitch (this is my TV knitting). It is the Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern which was in Vogue Knitting at the start of this year (oh, TWO VK patterns at once, goodness!)

Wish me bon voyage on this whole 'writing a book' adventure!! I hope to get to the Tuggeranong SnBs, and will try to stay in touch!

03 September 2008

"I find knitting pockets very boring"

A friend uncovered this book at her house, and felt its rightful home was with me and Dotter...

Yes, it's a comic book, of sorts, where the young hip 1976 girls talk knitting patterns and instructions.

Why is there a kind of scary looking witchy lady, with a black cat, in the background?! Why?

Here's what to do!

Even way back in the olden times they had tension squares!

Clearly, it's so much easier to read a pattern for how to knit a jumper in long speech bubbles, rather than line-by-line instructions ;)

Will bring it to SnB sometime to 'share and enjoy'!