Friday, July 17, 2015

Enter the Paradisi World

Today I welcome author Cheri Lasota, who has a huge announcement about an exciting new book series coming out this Fall. I'm very excited about this series, as I've had an ear to the door, so to speak, as it developed and as several of the authors have been writing their stories. Curious yet?

Massive Multi-Author Book Launch 

coming September 1st!


A science fiction adventure through time, space and generations, brought to life through the creativity and independent perspectives of multiple authors. Enter the world of the Paradisi Chronicles, where every new journey is a surprise ride you'll never want to get off.
Astronaut in the tunnels

What is the Paradisi Chronicles?

Deep Space

When Author Hugh Howey put out the challenge in 2014 for writers to band together to write in the same universe, our group of seven authors took up the challenge. We spent a year building out a fictional planetary system, complete with a massive world narrative with multiple peoples, languages, and storylines as well as detailed maps and a large amount of research into advances in Space Elevator, EmDrive, Ford-Svaiter Mirror, and spaceship technologies. In addition, we came together with a clear goal: the Paradisi Project is an open-source world, meaning any author who wishes to join in may write any story they wish. Thus far, we have written in a variety of genres: YA romance, a contemporary romance, two action-adventures, a coming-of-age action-adventure, and two near-future scifi novells on offer coming up September 1st.

And so it begins...

In the last decades of the twenty-first century, ten wealthy men and women, seeking to escape the increasingly devastated Earth, focus all their power and wealth on developing the technology and building the spaceships that will allow a select few to leave Earth and colonize the world they call New Eden. Here, on their new home in the Paradisi Planetary System, these Founding Families hope to avoid the environmental and political mistakes that were destroying Earth. But they find that the world they claim for their own is already inhabited, and the Ddaeran, the original inhabitants, although human-like in their appearance, possess abilities that the Founders and their Descendants will find both intriguing and frightening.  

Paradisi Escape

My novella series, Paradisi Exodus, details the origin story of the Paradisi Chronicles. I adore origin stories in general--hello every superhero origin story! =) While researching another scifi series I'm writing, I got obsessed with space elevators and realized I could add that technology to the world of Paradisi. Much of the tech in Paradisi originated with my various geeky obsessions with astronomy and near-future tech. Mea Culpa! Here's a bit about the story that kicks off my series:

Paradisi Escape

In near future 2094, Earth is on the brink of nuclear winter. A secret evacuation is already underway, and Solomon Reach and his crew have guaranteed passage on the last starship to leave for colonization and exploration of a new planet in a distant galaxy. When Solomon learns of a betrayal that will have catastrophic consequences, he is faced with an impossible choice: who will live and who will die?

Coming soon!

Subscribe to our blog at the link in the footer below to receive news of our imminent book launch on September 1. We can't wait to share our shiny new world with you. In the meantime check out the rest of our website where you can learn more about the world and all our stories. Thank you for the challenge, Hugh Howey. We accept!

About the Author

Cheri Lasota writing as Tristan James
Author Tristan Founder Cheri Lasota has been a freelance author, editor, ebook designer and marketing consultant for over a decade, Cheri has dedicated her life and career to helping authors succeed in publishing. Her bestselling debut novel, Artemis Rising, is a 2013 Cygnus Awards First Place Winner and a 2012 finalist in the Next Generation Indie Books Awards. Echoes in the Glass is her second novel. She is currently writing a scifi trilogy and a fantasy series. Cheri's Paradisi Chronicles novella series is written under the pen name Tristan James.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Garland and Bunting Door

We have a hallway entrance across from our front door. It's a doorway that everyone sees as soon as they come into the house, so early on I began hanging garland and bunting across the top for the holidays. As I learned to crochet, I began making the buntings and garlands. I have five now and plans for two or three more. Here is a tour through our yearly garland and bunting decor. Since it is July, I'll start with the closest major holiday. Patterns can be found in the links.

I recently made a Patriotic Bunting for Fourth of July. I crocheted it the morning of the Fourth and was so happy to be able to display it in time for our annual BBQ. 

The doorway looked so forlorn after I took down the Patriotic Bunting that I made this Watermelon Bunting based on a photo I'd seen using paper and doilies. I love it! The kids do, too. I think it is their favorite. 

It is also my first pattern to write and share on Ravelry. 

Next, for Halloween, I have the Boo Bunting I made a few years ago. I love the candy corn triangles.

This was my first garland to make, my Valentine Garland. I found a lovely pattern one year and after I made the garland, I just made the hearts for my daughter to hand out as Valentine's at school.

This has to be one of my favorites, my Shamrock Bunting. I made the shamrocks based off a pattern I'd found, then created the rainbow stripe and attached them. There is one four-leaf clover, for good luck. And it looks marvelous with our horseshoe*, which always hangs over the doorway. 

I have one other bunting that we don't hang on that wall, because it is simply too long. It is my New Year's Bunting. We hang it in the kitchen or take it to wherever we might be celebrating to hang up. 

I have plans for more garlands. One will be this amazing Garland Scarf from Crochet With Color. I might wear it as a scarf, too, but it will be a perfect spring garland for our doorway.

I also want to make a back-to-school garland or bunting. My friend Caren has found some fun patterns for me. First, I want to use these adorable crocheted notebook paper and add these fun pencil amigurumi in some way. And maybe an apple or two.

I would like to find a lovely winter garland next, too. And something for Thanksgiving. Maybe this in crochet?

*About our horseshoe--you see it in every picture of our doorway because I never take it down. It is for good luck, and it is from a thoroughbred that we met at Kentucky Horse Park. My daughter got the horseshoe from the farrier when we visited the blacksmith. It came off Da Hoss, who we met in the Hall of Champions. Since I both love horses, the Kentucky Horse Park (which I'd longed to visit since I was a girl and finally had the chance a few years ago), and good luck, the horseshoe is very special to me. And it just looks cool.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fear of Trolls

My daughter now has an online presence, which terrifies me a bit because of all the hate that can be poured out online. We talk about it, just like we talk about bullying in school, but I know just talking about it can never completely prepare someone, especially someone young, to face it. All we can do is provide the tools and the support. So I am very thankful to have found this video. It is brilliant, moving, and I think everyone should watch it.

I also read an amazing couple of blog posts about facing trolls by Leonie Dawson. In one, she says: Something I realised long ago was that the truth lit up my cells. Anything that made my stomach fall and my heart clench wasn’t true.

How powerful is that? And how true! What a solid way to explain to my daughter how trolls and truth can affect us. Such a visceral explanation of what happens when faced with cruelty or thoughtlessness or even our own mistakes. How often have I felt that stomach-dropping, heart-clenching sensation and realized afterwards that it wasn't caused by something I'd done at all. Like the time when I worked in retail and a person on the phone chewed me out and threatened to report me to my boss because of the way I spoke (I tend to give little nervous giggles at times, not even knowing I'm doing it). Even now, after all these years and how ridiculous it was, my heart still clenches a little remembering it.

But it wasn't about me, it was about that person and whatever bad day or rough life he was having. I was just an outlet. Just like I was an outlet to the bully who made my life so unpleasant through middle school--I've long since forgiven her, but the fear changed who I might have been during those years. And stayed with me for many years afterwards.

So I've taken the advice to heart as well. I have to admit, as I venture out into the world of publishing and helping to run an online business, I have harbored fears of facing hate-mongers. I'm not going to give them any more power through fear, though. And I'm not going to let fear of bad reviews, spiteful comments, or ugly emails hold me back.

I believe the energy that returns to us is the energy we send out into the world. I try to always make that energy positive or at least honest. I believe that no one can truly understand what another person is going through, but that we should all make the attempt. I guess a few adages from my youth have stayed with me all these years, those like "do unto others as you would have done unto you" and "don't judge a person without first walking a mile in his moccasins."

I hope that my daughter will never have to face such a thing like bullying or trolls, but I can't wish for that blindly. I intend to give her and my son all the tools I can to help them if it does happen. And use them myself.

But I won't let the fear that it might one day happen hold any of us back any longer.

Monday, June 29, 2015

My Big News! My First Published Book!

This month I published my first book! That's right--I'm a published author!

About my book:
One month ago, Ailee Donaghue married a stranger to save herself from scandal. Now aboard a ship bound for the New World with ninety other Scots-Irish, she has no idea what she’ll be able to offer her new husband. She’s a horrible knitter, a bad cook, and can barely be trusted with a sewing needle. But she can make friends, and she is eager to learn. Can she face the challenges ahead with a man she barely knows and dangers that she cannot begin to imagine?

The book shipped with Ficstitches Yarns' first crochet kit and is already being read, which thrills me to no end. But now that the kits have shipped, I can make the book available to everyone.

It isn't the entire story. This is part one of a three-part novel. Parts two and three will be released first with kits two and three through the crochet kit club, and then they will be released separately.

It is an amazing undertaking, being part of the crochet kit club. I'm loving it! Not only do I get to write this fantastic story about Ailee Donaghue and her adventures traveling to the New World, and I get to do all this amazing research into the 1720s and the history of the Scots-Irish and crochet, but I also get to work with two other talented women to build the kits. It was so amazing to see my words come to life in the gorgeous crochet pattern that Laurinda Reddig designed, based off a description of a shawl in the story, and to see Elsie's shawl pin become reality through Monica of Craftwich Creations and her wonderful craftsmanship. I can't wait to see what they do with parts two and three.

Unraveling: The New World, Part One is available in print and digital. The digital price is on sale through the month of July while preorders for kit two are open. Please tell all your friends!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Embracing Fibery Fiction

Me embraced in hand-dyed yarny goodness
In the early 1990s, a friend and I took a creative writing class together. Inspired, we set a challenge to each other: to write the sequel to a song we both loved. My friend was a song-writer and so she wrote her sequel as a song. I was more of a poet in those days, but I also enjoyed fiction-writing, so I thought I'd try my hand at a short story. I struggled with them, and this challenge seemed just the thing to help me practice writing one.

The story I wrote involved the young lady from the song and embroidery. I didn't actually embroider, but I had been cross-stitching since the late '80s, so I knew enough to get by. It was my first story involving handcraft. It wasn't a bad tale, but as it was based on copyrighted material, it exists now only in my memory.

In 2004, I attempted my second NaNoWriMo. The story I wrote and finished that November involved a weaver, a tapestry, and a sleeping god. I'd never weaved before, but I admired the craft. I'd also seen a full-sized fold-out picture of the Bayeux Tapestry, which served as part of my inspiration. It isn't woven but embroidered, but I was hazy on the distinction back then. If you haven't seen images of it, you should. It is breath-taking.

Then, in 2007, I met Laurinda Reddig. It didn't take her long to learn that I was an aspiring writer. Since learning of it, she has dropped not so subtle hints that I should write crochet fiction. Considering I didn't learn how to crochet until I met her, I merely grinned at the suggestion and put the idea away.

Until this year.

This year, Laurinda had the brilliant idea for a crochet kit club, something that would be both elegant and playful. Lovely hand-dyed yarns, carved hooks by our friend Monica, patterns that Laurinda would create for each type of yarn, and fun accessories that Monica would create. I loved the idea and offered to help however I could. So Laurinda did what she'd been trying to do for years. She encouraged me to write a crochet story that would tie all the elements together.

It was a lovely idea. I jumped on it. I started writing. And writing. And writing. And remembered that I'm not a short story writer. I write novels. And she still made it work. Part one of the first novel will be released in the first kit, shipping next week.

Writing that novel felt new, but at the same time, it felt like coming home. And I remembered that story back from college, with the girl and the embroidery. I remembered that first finished Nano-novel with the weaver and the tapestry. And I realized that I'd been leaning toward writing fibery fiction for some years.

So I have embraced being a writer of fibery fiction--not just crochet, but handcrafts of all sorts. And the ideas keep pouring in. I have the crochet kit story, which will be released in the kits in three parts, one in each of this year's kits. I have taken out that old sleeping god story and brushed it off, realized that there is actually a trilogy resting in its pages, and have started turning into something more. I'm adding spinning to it, as I'm learning to spin both on a wheel and a drop spindle.

And I have several other stories in mind, too. A crochet short story for the first of next year's kits, a western that will have crochet and perhaps quilting involved, a fantasy using wire crochet . . . and the idea keep coming.

I couldn't be happier!

I find myself looking through old story files, wondering how I can add yarn or thread to them. I'm playing around with different genres and how I can use crochet in them in a fun, new way. It's a blast, and I cannot wait to show you what I've come up with.

If you can't wait, we'll be opening sales for the Ficstitches Yarns Crochet Kit #2 in July. It's going to be a great kit. I can't wait to make the pattern myself. And I love how part two of the story is developing.

Or you can wait until next February, when the three-part story will be released as a novel, along with a new pattern by Laurinda centered around the story.

Or you can wait for book one in The Weaver's Trilogy. I don't have a release date yet, but I might aim for December. I'll have more news on that as it develops. I can tell you that book one will be called Tapestry's End.

Great writing days are ahead, and I hope, great reading days, too, for fans of fiber crafts.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bits and Bobs

All aboard the crazy train!

This is my daughter's last week of elementary school, and it is packed with activity. My son is out of preschool and has started his summer vacation with more video-game-playing than is truly healthy. I'm nearing completion of the first in a major career undertaking and have already begun a second and am contemplating a third and fourth. And none of this is counting the vasts amount of yard- and house-work needing to be done or just the day-to-day living that happens.

And the crocheting. We cannot forget the crocheting.

It's just too much fun and not enough hours to do it all in. It's actually a wonderful problem to have. I am absolutely not complaining.

What I am doing is struggling to find a way to keep up with it all.

My lovely friend Aurora, who is also a life-coach, is holding a seven-day Self-Care Toolkit challenge next week. I am definitely signing up! She's created a magnificent self-care planner. I've tried to use planners in the past and found them unhelpful, but I can see the appeal in creating one that works for me. So I am eager to see what she has developed, and hopefully after her challenge I'll have come up with something that works for me.

I've also been listening to Tara Swiger's podcasts on marketing and creating an authentic business. It is aimed at crafters, which I consider myself to be, as I craft stories. But since I happen to be a crafter of fibery goodness as well, I find the podcasts inspirational on a couple of levels. She recently held a webinar on How to Defeat Overwhelm. I wasn't able to attend the actual webinar, but I will be watching the recording this week.

This week as become my 'pull it all together' week. Or at least the 'attempt to pull it all together' week. I have no idea how successful I'll be, but I have plans, GREAT PLANS, and I simply can't sit on them any longer!

There might be a book involved. Or a trilogy. I'm still debating. Actually, I'm rather desperate to talk the whole thing out with someone to see if it is even a good idea.

At this point, I simply can't tell anymore.

Focus! I need focus!

And a cookie . . .

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sheared Delights Fiber Event

Karin of White Oak Alpacas  
Last weekend, I was fortunate to attend Sheared Delights, a fibery event at White Oak Alpacas in SW Washington State. Karin is one of the farm owners and the imaginative force behind the event. And she knows alpacas and their fleece like no one I've ever met. She's also a gracious host and a kind lady.

White Oak Alpacas
The farm is lovely, situated in the country surrounded by rolling green hills. It was cloudy on the first day, and the clouds wrapped the hills like a shawl.

Monica and Laurinda with the Craftwich Creations booth, featuring designs from ReCrochetions.
Monica trekked down from the north with her car loaded with goodies, and Laurinda and I were both there to help set up her booth inside one of the barns. Laurinda had her two books available along with a binder of patterns and several examples of her designs. I brought excerpt of my first fiber fiction story, Unraveling: A New World.

The hair pins were popular, and I'm sure this amazing display helped show them off. Notice her lovely cowl?
Monica's displays were awesome. Especially with alpacas in the background.

We were joined by other vendors, too.

Knit designer Melinda VerMeer displayed samples of her amazing designs.

Melinda VerMeer, knitting beside her booth.
Sari Peterson of Twists and Turnings had a table full of lovely drop spindles, and she gave several demonstrations in their use between spinning on her wheel.

Sari Peterson spinning.
Twists and Turnings booth.
Christine Arrington of Urban Wolves Fibre Arts, one of Vancouver's lovely new yarn and fiber shops, brought an amazing selection of spinning wheels and tools for fiber arts.

Christine Arrington of Urban Wolves Fibre Arts.
And many spinners joined us, setting up inside and outside the barn, depending on the weather. It was amazing to watch them at work.

And, of course, there were alpacas.

Alpacas everywhere.

And alpaca fleece. Bags and bags of it. I was fortunate to watching a fleece being skirted, a process I'd never heard of before. Apparently, to skirt a fleece you remove all the bits and pieces that you don't want processed with the fleece when it goes to the mill to be made into yarn. Of course, you could process it yourself, too, and spin it into yarn on a wheel or drop spindle.

Alpaca fleece, with is delightfully soft to work with.
Which is what I watched Monica do the first day. She had a bag of roving with her in green and blacks and spun them together in one strand, then spun that strand into a three-strand yarn.

Monica at the wheel.
 Which turned out so lovely.

Single-strand yarn.
 The second day was beautiful. Sunny and warm without being too hot. The perfect NW spring day.

The roses outside the barn were incredible to see and to smell.

We spent the day chatting and sharing our love for all things fiber while crocheting and knitting and spinning throughout the day. Visitors came in, some purchasing a hook or pattern or a bag of fleece before touring the farm and watching the alpacas.

I took the opportunity to learn how to use a spinning wheel. It was touch and go at the beginning, but by the middle of the day, I had a small ball of interest yarn to show for my efforts.

I borrowed the spinning wheel to try more at home, but I've been struggling to get it to work properly. I'm hoping to attend a spinning night at one of the many local gatherings for help. I just loved spinning and would like to pursue it, but I can see that I'm going to need more mentoring until I have the feel for it. 

It was such a fun event with two days of connecting with other fiber-minded folks, of sharing our arts and skills, and, of course, watching the alpacas. 

While they watched us.

Lots of alpacas, staring at us.

I intend to go again next year. Maybe with a spinning wheel of my own.