Friday, February 25, 2022

Sentro Knitting Machine by Spazzy Crafter

Image: The Sentro machine is on the left with a purple project in its center. The small, pink handle/crank has a ball on the end. The right side has the Addi machine with its handle prominent; it's larger with a thick, flat circle on the end to grab.

If you're looking for a less expensive loom knitting machine, you might want to try Sentro brand knitting machine. The Sentro comes in three different sizes: 22 needles, 40 needles, and 48 needles. The 22 needles size costs around 40 dollars on Amazon, the 40 needles one costs around 50 dollars, and the 48 needles costs about 70 dollars.

Things I like about the Sentro are:

The price

The included tensioner you put on the machine (makes one-handed knitting easier)

Handle shape is smaller and easier for me to grasp

Suction cups on the legs (I can’t use a clamp on my tray, so they help the machine remain stationary)
The one thing I don't like about the Sentro is how, if you accidentally hit the reset button on the row counter, there is no way for you to go back.

P. S. The reason I started looking into the Sentro is because shortly after I bought my Addi the handle broke. The handle for the Addi set me back about 30 dollars, and it shipped from Germany. Also, a tensioner for my Addi costs eight dollars… I’m already on my second one.

Friday, February 18, 2022

A Case Against Agents

Agents are heralded as champions of novelists. Many writers think their first step after finishing the book (if they aren't publishing it themselves) is to start finding one. But, there are many truths about agents you will not be told.

1. Agents get your money first.
Your agent is supposed to take their 15% before you get your share of royalties or advance payments. So, they get their hands on your money before you even see it (delaying your payday). Unsurprisingly, it's easy for them to skim off extra. If they do, they rarely get caught because people taught to trust their agents won't double-check. How well do you know someone over a dozen phone calls and emails?

2. Querying an agent is like submitting to a publisher.
So many spoonies tell me they don't have the energy to do round after round of submissions to publishers, but querying an agent and submitting your book to a publisher are quite similar; it can take years and dozens of attempts to get anyone's attention. Since a lot of writers go through more than one agent in their lifetime, agents are not a guarantee you won't have to submit/work your ass off for future projects.

3. Anyone can become an agent.
There are no formal requirements to becoming an agent. The best agents have knowledge of the industry, working relationships with various publishing houses, and a passion for books. But, nothing prevents a random person from printing out a business card and accepting clients.

4. Agents are more gatekeepers.
Authors from marginalized groups face even more considerations when dealing with gatekeepers. Will one book by a crip be labeled "enough" in the agency? Will agents not bring your books to the larger houses because they assume the "niche" novel by a neurodivergent writer won't sell? Editors pose plenty of hoops by themselves.

5. Agents can negotiate contracts without a law degree.
To clarify, I'm not saying someone has to have a degree to negotiate a contract (you can even attempt it after teaching yourself), but it's a mistake to automatically think they will always do a better job than a self-educated author. If you are scared you'll mess something up, there are IP lawyers you can pay who can get you better terms... without taking 15% of your royalties indefinitely. Plus, an agent might be more concerned with their relationship with a certain editor or publishing house than giving you what you deserve (you are one smaller client out of a dozen).

6. You don't need an agent to get published.
A lot of publishing houses have reading periods. Getting into one of the Big 5 (maybe the Big 4 soon) might not be directly possible, but even the largest houses can have hungry imprints that will consider manuscripts directly from authors. 

7. Agents aren't the only cheerleaders.
Some agents can be fuzzy cheerleaders, but so can other people in your life. If the main thing you're looking for is someone to lift you up during the writing and submitting process, you can join a writers' group or turn to a friend.

8. Agents can have terrible contracts.
Agent one had her author break up with her but can still get the 15% on a project she negotiated for the author years ago. Agent two won't submit a children's book for his once horror-writing client but will get 15% of the royalties should the author sell it themselves. Yet another agent makes money even when her client self-publishes. I know it seems like a "know what you're signing" warning (it is), but it's easy to slip an unfavorable clause somewhere. 
I know most writers and publishing professionals tell you an agent is necessary to navigate the waters, but most people telling you to get one tend to sweep the negatives under a rug they hope you don't move. Poets and other niche writers are advised (correctly) against trying to secure representation, anyway.  Agents are far from your only way into traditional publishing, and I hope you weigh every option in front of you before choosing your route. I'm cheering for you.

Further reading:

Dean Wesley Smith has a lot of older posts on agents. He and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are firmly against agents and negotiate contracts for themselves.

Friday, February 11, 2022

That Hurts by F.I. Goldhaber

You slapped me on the shoulder,
the one I dislocated
many years ago. That hurts.

You reach out to shake my hand.
I point to the hidden splint.
You grab for the other, but
I wear a brace to protect
it too. Even if you just
gently squeeze either of my
enervated hands, that hurts.

I must dodge and defend from
amiable aggression,
affectionate attacks, and
affable abuse that hurts.

Your cordial clap on my back
wakens persistent pain and
requires ice to recover,
costs me the ability
to attend an event or
write a new poem. You stole
one of my spoons and that hurts.

Why is it acceptable
to slam strangers, cuff colleagues,
bash buddies without consent?

Don't touch me. That always hurts.

Biography: F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, plastic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, broadsides, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 180 of their poems appear in almost 80 publications including four collections.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Review of Leaf Memories by Carol Farnsworth


Image: In the center is a photograph of a girl semi-covered in a pile of brown leaves. The girl is wearing a red sweater, white sneakers, and light colored pants. Her eyes are closed. She has straight, dark hair. The top of the image is a sand color with the title of the book in khaki. The bottom of the image is the same with the author's name.
Note: I was given a copy of this book in order to review it.

Wrinkled creases cover your cheeks.
You cry grey tears from cinder hills.
Burnt pine cones start the mend.

-From "Burnt Over"

Leaf Memories by Carol Farnsworth is a nature poetry chapbook interspersed with the occasional photograph in black-and-white. It is divided into sections by season. Each season begins with a grouping of haiku-like poetry sharing the same page. The division makes it a clear and easy read. 

A fall breeze begins to blow
Leaves are eager to start the show.
Dressed in hues of yellow, orange and red,
They hold on tight as the wind spreads.

-From "Tiny Dancers"

Each piece in this collection is awash with color, sound, and motion. Carol's attention to detail is exquisite and delicate. I felt as though I could see each poem just as she describes. Bits of humor can be found inside certain poems like small gifts.

snowflakes pile
crystal on crystal
creates dreamscapes

- "Flakes"

A few poems almost read like miniature lyric essays. "Beauty in the Field" and "With the Wind" are two examples of the work taking on a more fluid scope. They are small journeys to move through.

Two instances (that I can remember) make note of humanity's carelessness/destruction of the beauty of nature. I found this welcome, especially since most nature poets either brush it aside or make it a focus. It appears Carol comes to nature from a place of wonder and respect.

Rain distorts the reflection in the pane.
I contemplate my twisted hold on reality.
Memory of the visual world changes with age,
reforming like a deck of shuffled cards.

- From "Reflections"

Carol Farnsworth wrote these poems shortly after she lost her sight entirely. The last section of the book is "Spring"; it seems to be done with careful intent... leaving readers at a place of beginning.

I recommend this book to any fan of nature poetry.


Biography:  My name is Carol Farnsworth. I have worn many hats in my life. Trained as a Speech Pathologist, I have worked with children and adults with cognitive and language disorders. My leisure time was spent in a community acting group, singing in a chorus, and teaching Hawaiian dance at a local studio.

Six years ago, I struck my one eye losing the rest of my usable vision. I enrolled in a course in Braille and started to write for the local Association for the Blind newsletter. Through Hadley School for the Blind, I learned of a writers with disabilities group. Joining in early 2019, I have learned from fellow writers to practice writing poetry and short stories.

In March of 2020, I started a bi-weekly blog about living with blindness while seeing the humor in daily situations. Blog posts consist of a short article and a poem.

During my association with Behind Our Eyes, I have been published in Spiritfire Review, Breath & Shadow, The Avocet, and the B.O.E.'s magazine, Magnets and Ladders.

Additionally, I write a monthly article for the Blind Perspective and Newsreel audio magazines.

More information on Leaf Memories: