Dewey’s Read-A-Thon Mini-Challenges

October 18, 2014

I’ve decided to leave that other Read-A-Thon post for my book updates, and use this one strictly for any Mini-Challenges I participate in.

Opening Meme Mini-Challenge

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I’m in Los Angeles, CA. The San Fernando Valley, to be more specific.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Hmm.Tough choice. I’m not sure. I’m looking forward to reading a bunch of Jennifer Greene’s older categories. Also, I’ve got some holiday novellas on the list, and those are always a favorite. Not sure I can pick just one. I guess the first one, really, because OMG I WANT TO START. LOL.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I have none picked out. LOL.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I love reading romance and knitting, and thanks to audiobooks can sometimes do both at once. I’m addicted to Twitter and love talking about books. And knitting. It’s always a happy surprise when my book friends are also knitters. LOL.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? It’s not my first, so the biggest change this time from last is I’ve chosen shorter books. LOL Last time I was in the middle of a long series and the books themselves were lengthy, so because of the book and family stuff, I ended up only reading part of one book.

Pet Parade Mini-Challenge

Here’s Rani, slightly annoyed I’m disturbing her to take her picture. LOL. She’s been with me pretty much all day, though. She LOVES it when I stay home and read. It means lots of Mom Cuddle Time.

Photo of Rani for the Pet Parade Meme

And just because I think she’s cute, here’s a pic of us as the Read-A-Thon was starting at 5 a.m. my time.

Rani, squinting at me

End of Event Meme:

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? No one hour in particular was difficult. I knew I’d sleep from 9 a.m. until about 1:00 p.m., and that’s exactly what happened.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Pick books YOU love. Books you think you’re going to be excited to read, and be ready to toss them all out in favor of something new. LOL I put together a list of about 20 books as a Read-A-Thon TBR list, and it ended up with only half the books I read came from that list. 
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Have a separate page that lists all the door prize winners. 
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I think it all ran really well. 
  5. How many books did you read? 9 stories. Which was actually 5 books and 4 short stories (50-70 pages each)
  6. What were the names of the books you read? I have a full list going up in a few hours, complete with my random thoughts on this experience. Check back then! Or scroll through my Blog Post Updates.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Victoria Dahl’s Fanning the Flames and Jennifer Greene’s Quicksand.
  8. Which did you enjoy least? While I enjoyed them all, the books I’d probably be least likely to reread are the two Cynthia Eden books. Mine to Take and Mine to Keep.
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? The Cheerleaders were awesome. Thank you!
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’ll absolutely be a reader again, schedule permitting. 

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Dewey’s Read-A-Thon 2014

October 18, 2014

Dewey's 24-Hour ReadAThon

There’s a 24-hour readathon that goes on twice a year, I think. It’s called Dewey’s Read-A-Thon. The goal is to read as much as you can in a 24-hour period.

I’ve tried it before, but I didn’t plan my books well, and so I didn’t get through too much last time. Now I’ve stockpiled a bunch of holiday novellas and some ARCs and I’m going to cuddle with the cat, leave the TV off and just read for the entire day.

I’ve put this post up as a placeholder. I’ll be updating it throughout the 24-hours (which starts at 5 a.m. my time on Saturday) with what books I’ve read and anything else Read-A-Thon related, so be sure to check back frequently.

And, because this is me, I’ll also be tweeting throughout the day.

Update 4:00 a.m.: We’re an hour from the official start, and I’ve finally chosen my first book. It’s Jennifer Greene’s Trouble in Paradise. An older category which has been reissued digitally. Greene is one of my favorite authors, and I’m working my way through her backlist, so I think you’ll see a bunch of her stuff today. This one is a Marriage in Jeopardy book. And y’all know I eat those up like candy.

Update 8:00 a.m.: My first book is done! Trouble in Paradise by Jennifer Greene. I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have seen maybe 1 more chapter just to really show how things are better now, but I liked Griff and Susan and their relationship a lot. I had to laugh at them using a phone book to find the numbers of Tom’s friends. LOL. Other than that, though, the book never felt dated, as some category books can after a time. I’ve always found Jennifer Greene’s books to stand up well over time. Not sure what’s next. Maybe a nap. Maybe some breakfast. Back in a bit.

Update 3:00 p.m.: Well. I’ve had a little breakfast and a nap and I’ve gone on to finish book 2. Another Jennifer Greene book, Quicksand. Turns out I’ve already read it, but it was nice to reconnect with a book I had forgotten about, and one I enjoyed. So what to read next? Hmmm…

Update 8:00 p.m.: Another 3 stories down. I hesitate to call them “books” because, really, they’re just little quickies. But ever so satisfying. I read Anne Rainey’s Cape May series. The first one, What She Wants was about Summer and Gage. Summer owns a B&B and Gage, a P.I., has come to visit his aunt. The attraction is immediate. The next two books, What She Craves and What She Needs are both about Tory (Summer’s friend and part-time assistant) and her to best friends Devon and Con. In What She Craves, we find out that Devon and Con have been in love with her for a while and the timing is right this New Year’s Eve to show her how they feel. The last book, What She Needs, is all about Con, Devon, and Tory dealing with some unexpected jealousy just days before Valentine’s Day. I haven’t read all of Ms. Rainey’s books, but I’ve loved what I’ve read. These were quick, sexy little stories and perfect for the Read-A-Thon.

Update 12 a.m.: I’ve finished two more. The first was Victoria Dahl’s Fanning the Flames. Early in the book is this quote: “He smelled the way a man should smell when he was in your bed and working hard for it.” WHY have I not devoured everything she’s written?! I’ve read her before and really enjoyed her books. Her heroes are sexy and wonderful and her heroines are smart and funny and not ashamed to go after what they want and need. This one was a short story which is the start of her Jackson Girls’ Night Out series. I’ve already downloaded the next book. The next book I read was Cynthia Eden’s Mine to Take. This hero is dangerous and obsessive and alpha. Yes, please. WE know he’s no threat to the heroine. But is she convinced? It was fantastic and I actually peeked at the ending because I was worried about who her stalker was. LOL. I was wrong. Thankfully, Trace wasn’t. I’m about to start Mine to Keep, which is the next book in the Mine series, and also about Skye and Trace, but this time it’s HIS secrets putting them in danger.

Update 4:30 a.m.: My final two books today are Mine to Keep by Cynthia Eden. The sequel to the last book I read. And also Katie Reus’ Breaking Her Rules, which is book 6 of her Red Stone Security series. A series I’ve enjoyed and didn’t realize I was so far behind on. I have three more books to read before I’m all caught up.

I’ll post my final thoughts in a separate post tomorrow, but in the meantime let me just say I’m looking forward to April.

Lynda the Guppy
aka The Fish Without Sleep
aka The Fish With Sticks


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A Pirate Story

August 13, 2014

Robin Williams is gone.

I can’t believe it. I was looking at his IMDb listing, and I somehow forgot all the things he’s been in that I’ve loved. I remember watching Mork & Mindy with my parents. He made me laugh as Batty in Ferngully, a movie I watched endlessly because of my cousins one summer. He made me cry in Dead Poet’s Society with “Thank you, my boys.” I watched him be a loving “husband” to Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. He was creepy on Law & Order: SVU, and hysterical in Happy Feet as a singing penguin.

And then there’s Hook.

Because of connections, I was invited to the Hook set for a few days. I remember they were filming on the pirate ship and Robin and Dustin Hoffman and the kids were at one end, and my friend and I were at the other. Someone made some comment, I don’t even remember what it was. Some offhand remark while they were setting the next shot. And he was off to the races. While I sat there that summer afternoon on a hot set with one of my best friends, I got to watch him do a 15-minute monologue. Totally off the cuff. He had everyone in stitches. Steven Spielberg didn’t even bother trying to stop him or even slow him down. It was probably faster and more productive to just let him get it out. It was certainly more enjoyable for me!

At some point I was listening to the microphones through a headset, and I just couldn’t quite make out the line he was saying. It was too fast. Too garbled. So while they were on a break I asked Mike, who had invited me there, if he had a script handy so I could look it up. “Hey, Robin, can you come here for a second?” Yup. He called Robin FREAKIN’ Williams over so I could ask him what that line was.

I don’t think I fangirled. I don’t usually for actors. I’ve been around too long to buy into their mystique. But for one moment in time I was able to stand there and chat with Robin Williams. We talked for a couple of minutes and then he had to get back to work. What we talked about, I don’t remember anymore. It’s been too long. But what I do remember is this. Robin Williams took time out of his busy day to chat for a few minutes with a young college student. He was kind and gracious and very sweet.

He wasn’t ROBIN WILLIAMS FAMOUS COMEDIAN AND ACTOR.

He was Robin, one of the guys, and said he was happy to meet me.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. You brought so much joy and happiness into so many lives. You were a light in the darkness, and I only wish you were able to see it and reach out one more time. I hope you can feel how much you were loved by everyone whose lives you touched.

May your memory be a blessing to your loved ones.*

Bangarang.

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Heartbroken Fish

*While I am not Jewish, I’ve always thought the Jewish faith knew what it is doing when it comes to death and grieving. So my Catholic self completely appropriated their honorific here, because I think it’s lovely and heartfelt and something which can actually be a comfort to those grieving. 


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Yarn Crawl LA 2014: The Bad

April 15, 2014

On Friday I talked about all the fun I had on the Yarn Crawl this year. Now I’m turning the attention to The Bad. I had a lot of issues this year with the Crawl and the organizers, and I’m going to put them all out here.

The TL:DR verison: Social media campaign was nonexistent, Stephanie from Unwind called all the crawlers “Crazy” and said organizing the stores was like “herding cats,” and as a result I won’t shop there anymore. Ever.

The unabridged version:

I noticed in all my travels that attendance was WAY down from last year. It was obvious to everyone. Part of that is probably the economy, but I think a lot of it is how the organizers of the event promoted the event. Or should I say didn’t promote the event.

Maybe it’s because my business is working in social media, but their social media campaign this year was horrible. The Twitter presence leading up to the Crawl was practically nonexistent. The last Tweet from the account was March 7. An entire MONTH before the Crawl started. Before that, February 28. They had a total of 21 tweets between the last tweet of last year and the end of this year’s crawl. By comparison over the previous two crawls, there were 843 total tweets.

And the Ravelry forum? Even worse! People were posting questions and not getting any answers. The Crawlers themselves had to contact various people, pool their information, and take their best guess at what they thought the answers were. On the Facebook page they were (slowly) putting up “Shop Spotlights” and promised the Ravelry users they’d post them there, too. In one day they posted 7 Shop Spotlights. Out of 29 (28?) stores. And then that was it. Nothing else. And not just that they didn’t post any other Shop Spotlights, they DIDN’T POST ANYTHING ELSE on Ravelry. Those 7 Spotlights were posted on March 25, and nothing else was heard from the official LA Yarn Crawl account on Ravelry after that.

At 1:00 p.m. on the last day of the Crawl, when all the stores were going to be open for at least 5 more hours, the official YCLA Facebook page posted this:

See you next year crawlers, it was a blast! Please answer the following – Yarn Crawl LA 2014 was… (link to actual post)

Needless to say, a few responses were along the lines of “Still going on!” What the heck? If I was a crawler considering going out and hitting one or two stores at the last minute, I wouldn’t have gone after seeing that post. I would have assumed it was over.

But here’s the coup de grace. The part that if I was a store I’d be furious. As an attendee of all three years of the crawl, it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve read the article and I’m STILL frothing at the mouth angry. There was an LA Weekly article which the YCLA Facebook page happily promoted. “Huge! LA Weekly article on Yarn Crawl L.A. County!”

This article could not have possibly been more condescending and dismissive of the Crawlers. As much as I hate driving people to their site, here’s the full article.

First off, the two people “interviewed” in this article are Stephanie from Unwind and Libby who I believe is in charge of the PR for the Crawl.

Steinhaus says. “It’s a lot of work. We have to recruit the sponsors, the wholesale vendors who provide the gift baskets, the shops. Coordinating 30 entrepreneurs who are used to running their shop their own way? It’s like herding cats, trying to corral them into a joint effort.”

I may be wrong, but it’s possible telling the world trying to get the stores to do something is like “herding cats” is maybe not the best way to get them to do something.

What is crazy? Crazy is the 30 people last year who drove to all 30 stores. “That is not enjoyable,” Butler-Gluck insists. “Because I know I was racing to get 15 stores done. You’d see a car pull up, five women would run in, buy one ball of yarn, then fly out.”

Crazy is crawlers traveling in packs. They assemble in teams of five or eight or 10, with matching T-shirts. Perhaps they met at previous crawls, or on Ravelry.com (“like Facebook for knitters,” Butler-Gluck says). They skip work, or call in sick.

Crazy is renting minivans, carpooling routes that have been planned via Excel spreadsheet, and taking turns behind the driver’s seat so that no one loses a full day of knitting time.

I’m one of those 30 people. The first two years of the Crawl I went to all the stores. I EASILY went to all the stores. The first year was a combination of my knitter friends and my mom. In fact, my mom and I went out one day when it was just the two of us. The Crawl was in April and she passed away that July, and I treasure those two days she crawled with me, but especially the one day we went solo. We had a lot of fun and created memories which I think about all the time. It didn’t feel “crazy.”

But regardless of my mother’s condition, that first year, and the year after, was amazing fun! Trying to plan the best routes, who is going in which cars, what did everyone buy? What stores did everyone see? Any great events? There’s a huge social aspect to events like this, and to belittle it all and call us (your CUSTOMERS) “crazy” is insulting at the very least. I know it was a lot of driving to hit all the stores, but I planned well and each day I was done by 4-5. The first day last year I hit something like 8-9 stores and was done by 2:00 p.m. So to say it’s “crazy” and “not enjoyable” is just a crock. It may not have been enjoyable FOR HER, but don’t put that generalization on the rest of us. I know I had fun, and I’m betting the other 28 people did, too.

As a direct result of this article, I didn’t go to all the stores again. I could have. I work from home and could have arranged my schedule without any difficulty to hit all the stores for the third year in a row. Except I didn’t. If the organizer of the event thinks it’s “crazy” for me to shop at all the stores, then why should I bother? Apparently Stephanie and Libby I’m clearly not right in the head to want to do this, so I just kept myself and my money mostly at home and in my wallet this year. I went to 10 stores this year out of 29 (28?). I bought yarn at four of them.

Of course, even if I DID go to all the other stores for the Crawl, I still would have been one short, because I’ll never set foot in Unwind again.

Retailer motivations are less of a mystery. “Last year, sales-wise,” Steinhaus starts to say, then grabs a calculator from the register. “I just wanted to check my numbers,” she explains. “The four days of the crawl last year? We did 95 percent more business than any other regular four days. That’s not an exaggeration. Everyone I can get to be friendly and smile, I put to work.”

 

All in all, Steinhaus sold 291 balls of yarn associated with the special scarf.

“Which is,” she adds, “kind of crazy.”

If she thinks her customers are “crazy” and going to all the stores is “not enjoyable,” according to her good friend Libby, why should I waste my time and energy on participating? If this what she thinks of her customers, customers who brought in 95% MORE business, and who bought 219 skeins of yarn to make this scarf by Stephen West, then I see no reason to continue to support her or her store.

I’m sure other stores will happily accept my “crazy” money.

Lynda the Guppy
aka An Infuriated and Insulted Fish With Sticks
aka The Fish With Sticks


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Yarn Crawl LA 2014: The Good

April 11, 2014

This past weekend was YCLA, aka Yarn Crawl Los Angeles. For the third year in a row, for 4 days in April nearly 30 yarn stores come together and throw a party for all those who love yarn. There are special events and collectible pins from each store, and visiting all these yarn stores you’ve never been to before with all your knitter friends. It’s an amazing, if expensive, 4 days, and usually worth all of it.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting YCLA: The Bad, but today I choose to tell you all about the fun which was had. I won’t be listing ALL the stores we went to, just the highlights.

First stop on Thursday was A Major Knitwork. Last year A Major Knitwork had this fantastic sign out front, and I was pleased to see they brought it back.

YCLA14_Day1_AMK

Then it was across the parking lot to the Yarnover Truck where I realized I once again matched my yarn to my clothes.

YCLA14_Day1_MatchyMatchy

You’d think this would be a one-off thing, but no. Here’s a hat I worked on this past winter and the top I was wearing that day.

HatTopMatchyMatchy

Okay. Back to the Crawl. That was it for Thursday. Friday my only stop was to meet my friend Heather at Creative U Studios. I’m taking a class there, so I’ve been up at Creative U pretty regularly lately. I wasn’t going to buy anything, but they had this Dream in Color with Cashmere that was a fantastic raspberry pink. It had to come home with me.

Then I remembered Amanda was having an Atenti Trunk Show. I love Atenti bags. They’re made out of beautiful, interesting materials in fabulous color combinations. I wasn’t going to buy one on Friday, because I knew Saturday I was going out with my friends and that was the day I’d spend the most. I was TRYING to be good, so after some internal back and forth I decided to walk away. If, at the end of Saturday, I felt I still wanted the bag, I’d call Amanda and she’d see if they still had it. If not, she’d order for me.

Yeah, that lasted until I got out to my car. LOL. Sat for a minute and realized I was going to want the bag at the end of the day tomorrow, so why risk it not being there. Back into the store I went and walked out with this….

YCLA14_Day2_AtentiI’m VERY picky about what I use on long days like I had on Saturday, and I took a chance on this bag and I don’t regret it for a moment. It held everything I needed and then some, and it did it stylishly and comfortably. Can’t ask for more than that. Also, I took a look at the construction of the bag, and it is quality all the way. I love it.

Saturday was our “big” day. Saturday was the day four of us from my regular knitting group (Heather, Kara, Amy, and myself) left early…Ohhhh so early…

YCLA14_Day3_Sunrise

Coffee was up first (a necessity that early on Saturday morning) and then off to Alamitos Bay Yarn Company. I must say, out of all the stores I’d been to over these past three Yarn Crawls, Alamitos Bay really did an amazing job with their store. It started with the parking which was coned off and marked for Yarn Crawlers Only. From there they had their back door opened and had a Candyland theme. They had squares laid out for you to follow, a Gingerbread Man for you to take a selfie with (for another entry in another contest), and then filled their store with candy (real and decorative) and embraced the entire theme. They way the flow was changed, it allowed people to go in and browse and then pay, get their passports stamped, and enter any contests as they were heading to their cars. It was really well done. I hope they continue this layout each year, because it really worked.

In the parking lot we saw these ladies! Their entire car was yarn bombed and it was incredible.

YCLA14_Day3_TwistedStitchesVan

Before lunch we stopped at a new-to-me store, The Knitting Tree in Culver City. The Knitting Tree is run by Annette who used to be one of the owners of A Mano Yarn Center. (*sigh* I still miss A Mano). Anyway, her new store is a happy, fun, well-stocked, interesting store. I’d expect nothing less from her. It was wonderful to see her again, and she was practically glowing when she told me she and her business partner Bruce were getting married!

YCLA14_Day3_AnnetteBruceThis is the store where I. Cleaned. House. I have a weakness for Madelinetosh as you know, if you’ve spent any time here, and they had a ton of it. I was looking to knit two kid sweaters (a baby and a toddler) and needed to find the right colors, and she had them in spades. I may have also purchased one or two skeins for myself. Maybe.

We had a fantastic lunch at Paco’s Tacos (Thanks for the recommendation, Leo! You were right! Best tacos ever!) and two more stops and then we all hit the wall. We were exhausted! I was home by about 6:30 and asleep by 8:00 p.m. That’s right. Little Miss Night Owl was asleep by 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.

The four of us had an amazing time. We all enjoyed a gorgeous day hanging out with fellow Yarnies and singing bad 80s music at the top of our lungs. If you think we all resisted belting out the chorus to “Living on a Prayer,” at the top of our lungs, well…you don’t know us very well, do you? At one point we were all laughing so hard we were crying.

Sunday Alyson and I went to one of my favorite stores: Colors 91711. They’re always so friendly and it’s a charming, well-stocked, happy store. Sadly, I didn’t purchase anything this time, but that’s pretty rare for me. Colors is the only store EVER where I have checked out their sample and bought both the yarn their sample was knit with IN THE COLOR THEY USED. Seriously. That NEVER happens with me. And not only did they do it ONCE, they did it TWICE. Amazing.

Everybody scored some amazing yarn this year. Through various sale racks at several shops, Heather walked away with enough yarn to make 3 separate sweaters (one with a yarn with about 15% cashmere) and collectively spent significantly less than I spent buying Cascade 220 for my one CustomFit sweater. I bought a ton of Madelinetosh for baby sweaters, and a few random skeins of other yarns for myself. Amy found some Berocco Vintage she had been looking for and got a great deal on it, also in a sweater quantity.

All in all an amazing and fun time was had. The stores were all friendly and excited to meet the Crawlers and the Crawlers were happy to be out and meeting so many new people and stores. It was a ton of fun, but I have to say I’m pretty happy with my 2014 YCLA Stash. I didn’t go overboard like I have in the past, but I still bought a bunch of stuff and I don’t regret any of it.

I especially don’t regret my new bag.

Tomorrow: YCLA: The Bad. You’ve been warned.

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Fish With a SABLE* Problem
aka A Fish With Sticks

*SABLE = Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy.

 

 


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