Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Barn is Raised!

The Dream Team - Pete, me, John, Krysta, Eric and Maggie

Ta Da!
My never ending gratitude to Pete, Maggie, Eric, Krysta and John for making this happen.  Everyone was amazing, not a single complaint, no whining, everyone got along, we laughed alot, and most importantly, we got the job done.  Just in time too, moments after we were finished the shearer showed up to shear the goats and sheep.  It was a very eventful day, I’m still recovering from the awesomeness of it all and promise to share more pics and stories later. 
Soon the field will be dry enough to drag the shed out to pasture.  We did do a little test drag to ensure that it would a) actually move and b) not come apart when it moved.  Thanks to Eric’s foresight and bracing, it held up fine and will for a long time to come.   
THANK YOU ALL!!!  Those of you who were physically here working, cutting, screwing, and holding, preparing meals, and those of you who were with us in spirit, cheering us on from all over the globe.  I am blessed to have such love and support in my life.

Spring Means Dancing

Spring is Morris season. Mystic Garland went to NEFFA and very nicely let me go along again. I hadn't been since 2006, the last year it was in its old location, and I enjoyed having more elbow room in the contra medley, craft hall and vendor stalls (though lunch was as crowded as ever because it's not NEFFA without eating the amazing international food and the latkes are worth the wait).

We're, as a group of Mystic Garland and non-Mystic Garland volunteers, also preparing for Mystic's May Day celebrations, which this year are May 7th. We will be demonstrating a few different kinds of weaves and leading a few that are easy for little kids to participate in as well. I will also be teaching Shephard's Hey, which I don't think this part of the world has seen in a while.

There have been and continue to be a lot of good contra and English Country Dances before some break for the Summer and while more bands and callers are on tour for festivals, weekends and dance series.


I'm working on my two at a time socks, but there's nothing really to update about them. I'm a slow knitter and it's tiny yarn, so. However, I will be going to the Connecticut Sheep, Wool & Fiber Festival this Saturday. It's an exciting festival to go to because it is one of the earliest sheep dog trials in the season, for this region, so the dogs have to work very hard to work the sheep, who clearly would like to go back to winter, relaxed conditions.

Just as I had the mix-cd ready to give to my friends who organize a weekly potluck they put the potlucks on hold for a while, so I will post the playlist/cover art if/once they've resumed.

The Art and Craft of Fiction

“Those of us who have been writing
fiction for a long time know how easy it is
to get caught up in the act of writing,
in the characterizations, structure, descriptions,
dialog, polishing of language, and—that
most hair-rending of all issues—whether or not
it’s ever okay to use words ending in -ly.
We wrack our brains over this stuff.
We read intensely for hours on end, taking notes,
researching how the greats handled it.
We lie awake nights and weep…”

I’ve been reading since I was three (says my Mom), and writing for almost as long. I’ve got literally thousands of books on my bookshelves. I read about writing; I write about reading; and vice versa. I studied writing in college, and probably have too many books on writing since I should be, well, writing.

Yet, I’ve never read another book quite like Victoria Mixon‘s The Art and Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual. It’s like a Master’s class in fiction, all assembled inside one, handy-dandy cover (either electronic or paper).

This is not a book about punctuation or grammar. It’s not about the “rules” of writing. It’s not about the writer’s mindset, thought-processes, habits, or intentions. It doesn’t tell you how to write or how to find the time to write … though it touches on each of these.

What it does do, is tell you what you need to put together a well-crafted story that will hook your reader and drag them along for however long a journey you choose to take. It’s masterful in every sense of the word–because it is full of tips, tricks, secrets, and devices that belong to a true master.

“The only reason I know
for writing fiction is to tell stories.
And the only reason I know for
telling stories is the same as that for
telling jokes: to get to the punchline. …
The basic act of fiction is the art of telling a story.
You can—and will—spend far more hours
and energy on the craft of writing fiction
than you do on creating the story itself, but
the reason for writing a story remains the same: to tell it.”

Even those of us who live and breathe the written word, who pass our time going from story to story, can’t always grasp what makes some fiction sing and some fiction fall flat. We can tell when it works (hopefully), or when it doesn’t, but we can’t always put our finger on exactly what makes a seemingly well-crafted novel fail. Or why one that isn’t particularly well-written works anyway. I can listen to Mozart and know that I’m hearing a master, but I can’t tell you exactly what makes his chamber music so much better than Salieri’s. I can’t always specify what makes one author so much better than another–just that I know in my gut that it IS better.

That’s fine for a reader, but if you’re a writer, knowing the whys and wherefores is important. You might be lucky enough to throw together a masterful meal on your first trip into the kitchen, but if you want to write seriously, you’re going to need to be able to do it again and again and again … so you need to know HOW.

Well, Victoria Mixon does, and she graciously shares it with us. She not only points out what makes good writing GOOD, but she tells you how to do it yourself.

Again, I don’t mean that this is a normal writing book with general, good advice. There are lots of those (and you should read those, too). And while she does cover some of the nitty-gritty stuff like punctuation, and describing the difference between general editing and line editing, those are not the most valuable parts of the book.

This book tells you WHY one plot line works and another one doesn’t. It tells you how to make your characters breathe on the page–and how to keep your reader turning them. She explains the importance of plotting but not overthinking. The importance of having fun with your first draft, like when you were a kid and your imagination was untrammelled. She also stresses the importance of letting your manuscripts cool off between your first draft and your first re-read.

This book won’t automatically make you a better writer. It’s not filled with “Write Better Now” schemes, or a bullet-point list of things to do to make it to the bestseller list. Writing, good writing, is WORK, and you’re always going to have to work at it. But this book will tell you what to strive for.

“Never listen to anybody
who tells you not to love or hate anything
about your chosen art.
Love your work. Love every little bit of it you can.
Love the paper and pen nibs and keyboard,
love the punctuation and vocabulary and syntax,
love the alliterations and etymology and patois and
Great Vowel Shift of the fifteenth through eighteenth
centuries. Hate what really burns you up.
Throw yourself, like Camille, across the
fainting couch of literary aspirations.”

Better still, this book doesn’t read like some dry textbook. (Hence the scattered quotes through this review.) It’s lively and fun and brimming with life. Metaphors show off their colors, instructions are witty, and it ultimately feels like getting advice from your best, smarter-than-you friend.

“And this is why fiction is not just a craft, it is art.
Because art is about discovering the unknowable.
It’s about diving into that river of reality and fishing up
what you find, turning it in the sun to make the light
refract off it and show not just what it looks like,
but what it resembles, what it’s not, what it could be,
what it might be, what, in fact—in the alternate
universe in which we all simultaneously live
without even knowing it—it really is.

(In the interests of full disclaimer-ship, I will mention that this was a free review copy, but that does not change the fact that it blew me away.)

Want a look inside? Click here. Or go straight to and order a copy. It’s also available as an ebook PDF from Victoria’s site.

You won’t regret it.

Barn Raising this weekend!

How can you resist Susie's sweet smile?

I'm so ready for that new pasture....

she's been talking about this shed forever....

Getting the shed that I won along with the goats put together and out in the pasture has proven to be a bit of an issue for me. Every time I think I’ve got the bodies and the knowledge scheduled to be here at the same time, I’ve been disappointed. I know, life happens, plans change. People mean well, and then before you know it, your window of opportunity has shut (i.e. it started snowing) and the project was shelved last Fall.

But, Easter is all about resurrection, and so, I’m resurrecting the barn raising project, and have at least 2 couples on board to come for the weekend to make it happen. Add in the few folks in the neighborhood who don’t have out of town plans, and we have a barn raising in the making! If you’re in the central VT area, or within an easy drive and have an inkling to lend a hand, you’re welcome to join us.

We’ll start out on Saturday morning about 10 am. The shed is a kit. It’s all precut, labelled and predrilled, complete with hardware, so it shouldn’t be a terrible job. It’s like a big Ikea bookcase, and we just need hands to move things around and hold them while they get attached etc.

In addition to raising the shed, I’ll be cooking up a nice, home grown Easter ham, with all the fixins. So, if you’re around, and have any inclination to check out the farm, goats, sheep, fiber or shed building, come on down. Leave your email in the comments and I’ll send you directions and contact info.

My neverending thanks to Krysta and Eric, for getting the ball rolling and giving up their Easter weekend. Special thanks also to my cousin Pete and his squeeze Maggie, for offering to make the trip up from VA to help out. Pete’s on woodchuck duty too :)

Audiobook Contest – Vote for Me!

I decided to try for the audiobook contest Neil Gaiman and HarperCollins are running for the audio version of American Gods. My file, to listen to and vote for, is here. Voting is now (it started the 13th) through May 2nd. The winner will be chosen from the contestants with the most votes by Neil Gaiman and HaperCollins employees.


buddy doggles
Originally uploaded by lornababy

buddy was taken from our family in the meanest and cruelest way yesterday. it will take a while for everyone to get over this, but i wanted to start the process of remembering him as the happy-go-lucky dog he was. this picture pretty much sums him up. we'll miss you, bud.

Next Set of Knitting Videos!

The Joys of Continental Knitting!

Continental Knitting from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Knitting Faster from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Knitting Backwards from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Next Set of Knitting Videos!

The Joys of Continental Knitting!

Continental Knitting from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Knitting Faster from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Knitting Backwards from Lisa Stockebrand on Vimeo.

Seeds in the Ground!

Today I am home with laryngitis. Yesterday, I got seeds into the ground! Now I have to figure out how to keep the chickens OUT! Right now the seeds are covered with a cloth which is supposed to let in air, light and water, hope it will discourage the chickens! They tend not to go into the garden if the gate is closed, but it is only a matter of time - if food is involved - until they figure out that they are indeed birds and can actually fly over the fence -- shhhhhh, don't tell them!

I have been scooping the compost out and tossing it onto the beds a little at a time for the last couple of weeks and letting the chickens go at it - you can see in the left-hand bed that they do a pretty good job!


There are new pretty flowers- these are the best tulips! They are super bright, early and last!


Crocuses -

and of course, forsythia-

Can't forget the chickens - here they are in their prison run waiting to be let out

If you are needing a good dose of spring - go check out the Lambcams - yes they now have THREE over at Juniper Moon Fiber Farm. The babies are coming and nothing says spring like baby sheep and goats! Two cams look into nursery pens, the third (cam 2) looks out into the small nursery field. So far there is 1 lamb (bird names) and 4 kids (apple names)