Thursday, March 29, 2012

Iambik Audiobooks keeps them coming...

Iambik Audiobooks just released three more books for your listening pleasure.  We have a new science fiction title, The Other, by Matthew Hughes and narrated by award-winning author Edward Willett.  The main character, Luff Imbry, was featured in Matthew Hughes' earlier novels.  This from Publisher's Weekly about The Other: "Superlative. A droll narrative voice, dry humor, and an alternative universe that's accessible without excessive exposition."

Our next two releases are both recorded by that lady with the gorgeous voice, Xe Sands.  First up is another addition to our science fiction category.  The Silence of Trees by Valya Dudycz Lupescu is set against a background of Ukrainian culture.  Charles de Lint of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction wrote: "Throughout we get bits and pieces of Ukrainian folklore and mythology woven into the narrative, all of it handled in a very believable and evocative manner, lending deeper import to the day-to-day lives of the characters. Lupescu pulls all of this off with great aplomb, making it so natural that by the time the reader gets to the end of the book, those beliefs feel like they're something we've always known. [...] Lupescu did as excellent a job with characterization as she did with all the other elements of her book."

Iambik's third debut in audio is Saving Angelfish by Michele Matheson and falls into the literary fiction genre.   Xe Sands gives voice to Maxella (Max) Gordon, a part-time actress and full-time junkie.  According to the Los Angeles Times: "This is a flawlessly executed study of a life that's fully dissolved."

All three books have the full first chapters available on the Iambik site and are available in mp3 and m4b formats.  These titles are $6.99 each.

There's also an Iambik book giveaway currently being conducted at TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog.  From now until April 3rd, you can win one of 2 copies of Andrew Kaufman's All My Friends Are Superheroes  narrated by Gordon Mackenzie.  Good luck!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Amigurumi Bunnies and Vintage Needles

I just finished the three Amigurumi bunnies I made as gifts for my nieces for Easter.  Of course, they'll also be receiving the requisite M&M's with them.  Just as I did with their Valentine's Day goodies, I wanted to finish in plenty of time after my hurry at Christmas to finish the Amigurumi puppies in one week! 

I have to thank the blogger at Nerdigurumi for sharing this
easy and fantastic pattern that she created.  Not only can you make these bunnies with this basic pattern but you can also make other 'critters'.  Be sure to check out her site. 

I've also been busy knitting and crocheting items for The Humble Stitch and Knit-A-Square.  I have enough items to ship to The Humble Stitch and the package will go out by the end of the week.  Right now I'm still working on the ladies drop stitch scarf I showed a few posts ago but I did finish the man's long scarf and the cabled hat to go with a beanie, 2 sets of fingerless gloves and 2 other scarves.  These are a combination of knitted and crocheted items.

As I mentioned previously, I came across some vintage plastic and bakelite knitting needles when Duane and Linda and I were roaming antique shops near where Duane lives.  I loved using them so much that I managed to buy another set from the same store and then decided to look on eBay.  I scored with 2 separate lots of vintage needles (some of which I've shared with Duane and Linda) of almost every size.  I don't know if I'll ever use metal knitting needles again.  These are a mixture of plastic, bakelite and a few wood sets.  I was hesitant about bamboo needles because I had heard pros and cons about them when it comes to speed and breakage.  I first learned to knit on a child-size set of plastic needles when I was 11 years old.  I made a few (very) simple things for my 'Heidi' doll -- mostly capes with pretty buttons as a fastener.  After I outgrew the doll, I stopped knitting and didn't pick it up again until late last year but I find it very relaxing.  I decided to 'display' my knitting needles in tall glass vases I had around the house and they now sit on my midcentury modern coffee table in my home office.   I am now officially a needle and yarn junkie.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Iambik keeps the science fiction coming...

Iambik Audiobooks just released books 1 and 2 of the Hexslinger series by Gemma Files.  This series is in the science fiction/fantasy genre.  Both books are narrated by the talented Gordon Mackenzie.  Book 1 is called A Book of Tongues and book 2 is entitled A Rope of Thorns.  If you like your sci/fi with a western twist, you're going to love this series.  Set just after the U.S. Civil War, these books are not for the squeamish. From Publisher's Weekly on book 1: "(A) boundary-busting horror-fantasy debut . . . Files smoothly weaves an unusual magic system, Aztec mythology, and a raunchily explicit gay love story into a classic western tale of outlaws and revenge . . . this promising debut fully delivers both sizzling passions and dark chills."

Book 2, A Rope of Thorns is the sequel to A Book of Tongues and begins in 1867 and continues the exploits of the same wild characters.  This from Library Journal regarding book 2: "This sequel to A Book of Tongues paints a stark, vivid, and gory picture of the 'wild west' in the years following the Civil War. . . . Filled with antiheroes, sacrificial victims, and supernatural beings, Files’s latest is not for the squeamish but should delight fans of gothic Western fantasy and Central American myths."

Narrator Gordon Mackenzie is already at work on Book 3 in the
Hexslinger series, A Tree of Bone, so if the first two books only whet your appetite -- don't worry, there's more to come.  Books 1 and 2 are available now at Iambik in mp3 and m4b formats.  At $6.99 each, you're in for a hell of a ride!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New books from Iambik Audiobooks

It's only looked quiet at the Iambik website.  Behind the scenes, narrators, proof-listeners and the people who make it happen have been very busy.  Three new titles are out today with lots more to follow.   First up is a collection of stories in the crime genre.  Las Vegas Noir is an anthology of 16 stories by 16 different writers.  Each story is set in a specific area of Las Vegas.  As a first for Iambik, the stories are told by numerous narrators.  I narrated the creepy "Bits and Pieces" by Christine McKellar.  This book is one in the Noir Series published by Akashic Books with each book concentrated on a particular place.  So, get a taste of the different parts of Las Vegas and figure out where you would and wouldn't like to visit.

The second Iambik book is in the literary fiction mode.  Trash Sex Magic by Jennifer Stevenson and narrated by the talented Arielle Lipshaw is filled with memorable characters.  Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife described it beautifully:  “This just absolutely rocks. It’s lyrical, it’s weird and it’s sexy in a very funky way. Trash Sex Magic is full of people you would maybe be afraid to meet in real life, but once you’ve met them fictionally you are damn sorry you can’t at least have a beer with them.”

Our third new title is in the science fiction/fantasy genre and is called Road to Hell by Krista D. Ball.  Narrated by the multi-talented Priscilla Holbrook, this book spans the areas of crime, sci/fi, and war.  Follow Captain Katherine Francis as she struggles with her conscience working with a known spy after her home planet is destroyed and her family killed.  Her determination to end the war leads to tough decisions she is forced to make.   

To listen to the first chapters of any of these books, visit Iambik Audiobooks.   Our books are available as mp3 files for any media players and m4b format for iTunes, iPods, iPads and iPhones.  The cost is $6.99 per title.  These books will also be available at Audible and Amazon within a few weeks.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The 49th Annual Chiselers Market and a Fun Artsy Blog

Yesterday, Duane and Linda and I went to the annual sale held by the ladies of the Chiselers Market.  (See last year's posting on March 4, 2011 for info on our previous experience.)  The members of the Chiselers group prepare all year long for this sale held in beautiful Plant Hall.  This was actually Duane's first time at this sale but Linda and I prepared her for what to expect.  Crowded and long lines.  We ran into our friend, Danny, who has attended the sale many times before.

Unlike last year, this year we knew what to expect, particularly which areas of the sale we wanted to hit first.  Last year Linda and I made the mistake of getting to the furniture section (held on one of the verandas) too late.  Linda had been looking for possible end or accent tables and we saw many lovely ones.  All with sold signs on them.  Not this time, baby.  As the three of us pushed our way through the crowd (it's also 'bring your own bags'), Linda stopped to look at a few Queen Anne style tables.  Then as we reached the end of the furniture section, there it was.  A desk for Linda's home office.  She had been looking for the past year at new and used ones but couldn't find what she was looking for.  She had wanted a white one and may paint this one (it's stained wood) but it was such a great deal.  (Linda sent the pic of the desk after she got it home.)    Solid wood with a keyboard drawer, two deep file drawers and a section with a door perfect for a CPU.  The three of us stood there literally hanging onto it -- trust me, you have to do this -- until one of the Chiselers came through and Linda could pay and have the desk marked 'sold.'  The price?  A whopping $20.  Score!

Linda's desk.

We also scored on a smaller scale in the book room with purchases of books for pleasure reading but also some nice knitting and crocheting books for our little 'group' library.  I spent a grand total of 75 cents.  We checked out the big room called the Bargain Center hoping we might score some yarn or vintage knitting needles but if they had had any, they were gone by the time we got to that room.  Unlike last year, we didn't even TRY to get close to the jewelry section.  It was wall-to-wall derrieres around that booth and even though we had sharpened our elbows before the sale, none of us felt like fighting to reach the point where we could at least see some of the jewelry.  That was OK, though.  Linda's big score was reason enough to consider the sale a success.  We headed to a parking lot sale at one of our favorite vintage shops (I scored some DVDs there) and then stopped for refreshments at Starbucks.

Linda had to rent a truck in order to get the desk to her house.  (It's cash and carry at the Chiselers sale.)  She and Duane went to Home Depot and secured a truck.  I told them to give me a call if they needed me once they got the desk to Linda's house.  I had a feeling it was going to be really heavy since it was solidly made.  I was right.  Duane called from the truck as they were headed to Linda's house.  When the desk was loaded at the Chiselers' pick-up location, Linda and Duane knew they couldn't get it off the truck and into Linda's house without more help.  George and I headed to Linda's and after some groaning and huffing and puffing, we got it safely inside the house and placed it on a blanket Linda had ready for it on the floor.  Success! Now Linda just has to move her old desk out of the house (probably to the curb for anyone who wants it) and Duane and I can help her slide the new one into her home office.  Sweet.

On a different note, I've been following a site called Daily Paintings ever since I first read about it in the (sadly) now defunct home magazine called "Domino."  I've purchased several paintings from different artists on the site over the past several years and one of them, Kimberly Applegate, began a new blog recently called "Hunters and Gatherers."  Kimberly has a blog for her paintings called Joie De Vivre.  However, Hunters and Gatherers is a blog she set up for buyers of her art to show how they've chosen to display it.  When I discovered it, I loved looking at the different ways that buyers shared in their photos of placing Kimberly's art work.  I decided to send in a couple of pictures of the 'setting' for one of Kimberly's paintings that I purchased, too.  Right now, my pictures are the current post on this blog.  Have a look at mine and be sure to look back over the other buyer's photos, too.  Fab eye candy.        

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New LibriVox project and other updates

I've started working on my newest solo for LibriVox.  I chose a young adult or teenage book called The Girl Aviators and the Phantom Airship by Margaret Burnham.  This book is the first in a series advertised as the 'Girl Aviator Series' and is aimed at teenaged girls on up.  I was happily surprised that these were not already in the LibriVox catalog but, of course, LibriVox always welcomes additional readings of any Public Domain books.  After I finished the last two books I recorded, Peggy's Trial and Camp-Fire Girls in the Country or The Secret Aunt Hannah Forgot, I donated the copies to Project Gutenberg since these books were not yet in their catalog.  I received a very nice thank you email from them and one of their scanners/proof-readers will be uploading these books to PG's database as he finishes them.

I've also continued with my knitting and crocheting for charity.  I finished the cabled hat that was a 'work-in-progress' in a previous post and I've also made some more squares for the Knit A Square project. They have posted a wishlist for the coming year which will be very helpful for me and my knitting friends when we decide what to make other than squares.  In addition to my charity knitting and crocheting, I've been busily at work on a new Amigurumi project.  I'll post more about it with pictures when I'm finished.  Oh, and when Duane and Linda and I were out antiquing near where Duane lives, we came across a shop that had a bunch of old and vintage knitting needles.  Some were even made of bakelite.  Duane and I have both bought some of the old plastic ones and I love knitting with them.  They're so light and smooth.  I haven't tried bamboo needles which I know that many people praise for the same reason.  I just love the idea of using vintage needles.  Apparently this dealer has more needles and has been putting a small bunch out at a time.  Great for us since we can check back to see what's new in style and size.

In the mean time, I'm waiting for responses to various auditions I've sent out for audiobooks for pay including several that will be recorded for Iambik.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Me and Mr. Jones

In the fall of 1966, The Monkees TV show first aired and I was immediately hooked.  So was my then 8 year old sister Pam and, because she was always interested in whatever Pam and I did, 3 year old Carol.  Heidi wouldn't arrive until a couple of years later.  At 10 years old, The Monkees and, specifically, Davy Jones, were my first real crush.

At different times I had crushes on each of The Monkees but I always came back to Davy.  As much as I loved listening to The Beatles on the radio -- I remember "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" being two of my favorites then -- they were on the other side of the pond.  They weren't as accessible as The Monkees.  I knew I could count on seeing The Monkees every Monday night on TV.  Pam and I started collecting their albums and their 45's.  And, yes, we saw their movie "Head," too. 

I even have wonderful memories of the commercials that ran during The Monkees shows.  Yardley of London ran these great ads for Slickers lipstick (which, of course, I wasn't old enough to buy or wear) but I wanted them badly.  And I loved the English model Jean 'the Shrimp' Shrimpton.  I wanted to be 'the Shrimp' and marry Davy Jones.  Period.

Besides being so darned cute and talented, being English set Davy apart from the other Monkees (sorry, guys) and, to me, he was a link to groovy London and Carnaby Street.  Places I read about in magazines like "16" and "Tiger Beat."  Pam and I would beg our mom to buy these mags for us and she often did and even seemed to enjoy the music of The Monkees with us.

My mother thought The Monkees were pretty harmless which was good since that was a time for my family that wasn't the greatest.  We were an Air Force family and my dad had volunteered for a tour in Vietnam.  He left in July of 1966 and returned in July of 1967.  We missed him so much and I know that it was really tough on my mom to handle her own feelings on top of those of her three young daughters.  We were always a bit on edge when any news came about my dad's base.  He was not in combat.  In fact, for years I didn't really know what he did there.  It wasn't until after his death that I saw his service records and he was listed as a 'liaison' to the South Vietnamese Air Force.  Even after 40 years, almost everything about his duties was blacked out or redacted.  And to my friend Barb, no, he was not and never was a 'spook'.  I had a good laugh at that supposition.

At 10 years old I would never have guessed, in a million years, that 20 years later Pam and Carol and I would see The Monkees perform live for the first time.  Davy, Micky and Peter toured as part of a 20th anniversary reunion.  We drove 2 hours to the concert and we would have gone much further if necessary.  I'm (almost) embarrassed to admit that with all of the singers/performers I've seen over the years, many much better than The Monkees, I have never felt the way I did when the 3 of them came out on stage.  I surprised myself when I realized that I was actually jumping up and down and screaming -- something I'd never done at a concert.  The 10 year old girl was still in there.  Pam and Carol were the same way.  The Monkees looked and sounded great and put on a terrific show.  Davy's version of 'Valeri' was a sexy and funny showstopper.  We were very happy campers on the drive home.

A few years later we saw them perform again in a different city and the guys didn't disappoint.  Weird Al Yankovic opened for them and passed out scarves from around his neck a la Elvis.  Fun times.  Then, the last time we bought tickets to see The Monkees a few years later, I ended up not going due to a migraine headache.  I lost out on that one.  Davy stepped off the stage into the audience and walked up to where my sisters were sitting.  He took Carol's hand and looked into her eyes while he sang one of his signature songs, "Girl."  I nearly died when Carol told me.  It's a good thing it happened to her.  I would have probably looked like a proverbial deer in the headlights if he'd done that to me.  Carol loves to point out that when I'm really 'in' to something, I may move one foot slightly.           

As news of Davy Jones' death spread yesterday, I read so many postings on Facebook and Twitter along with articles in places like The Huffington Post and Slate that I started to think about what the Monkees and, particularly, Davy Jones meant to me.  He and The Monkees were such a big part of my childhood and, as it turned out, figured into my adult years, too.  Like many of his fans, I feel like he took a chunk of my past with him.  I read that Davy was the father of 4 daughters, just like my father, which puts him in very good company.

RIP, Mr. Jones.  You will be missed but you left me with some wonderful memories.

Davy Jones,  1945-2012