Monday, December 31, 2012

1,000 posts

This is my 1,000th post since starting this blog on September 1, 2007. I think it was 2007. Anyway, milestone post!

Writing-wise, 2012 was a disappointing year in some ways. Three different markets that had accepted my work went toes-up. On the other hand, I did have a story in Daily Science Fiction, which was pretty cool.

I wrote two full-length books in 2012, the YA Shadow Trail and the fantasy Wharf Rat. I'm in the final throes of revisions for the latter, which I hope to finish tonight so I can send it out to beta readers. I am no closer to getting an agent, but I have a kick-ass YA steampunk fantasy lined up for my next project, so maybe....

As for resolutions, I didn't make any for 2012 because it was so crazy and horrible with Mom's death on Jan. 3. The only resolution I've ever made that I've kept was from 2011, when I resolved to floss my teeth every single day. I have, too.

But I feel the need to line up all my ducks (OMG, I seriously didn't write ducks the first time) and make some resolutions for 2013. I will try to keep them simple.

1. Get a tattoo. (I've been seriously intending to for about 15 years. This is the year! I just need to figure out what and where and then find someone to hold my hand when I go to get it done.)

2. Take up a sport, whether fencing or horseback riding (or both) or something else. Exercise daily, even if it's just for a few minutes.

3. Hike more.

4. Travel more.

5. Reach my weight loss goal, or at least get to a point where I feel better about my appearance. Respect myself and take care of myself.

6. Do more interesting things and spend less time sitting in front of the computer.

7. Keep striving to improve my writing in every way.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Taproot: A fragment

I cleaned out my big walk-in closet today, the one that I haven't actually been able to walk into since moving into this house. Well, it's clean and organized now. One of the things I found was a notebook with the beginning of a story written in it.

I have a very vague memory of writing the pages. I know the characters Will and Francis are William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon, and I think the story was going to be about how Shakespeare was inspired to write A Midsummer Night's Dream, but I have no earthly idea where I was going with it. It seems to be titled "Taproot." So since it will never see the light of day otherwise, here's the little bit of story for what it's worth.


Midnight, or nearly midnight. A tall, thin man dressed impractically in city clothes of hose, breeches, and doublet stumbled across a field. A handful of sheep, made sinister by the moonlight, stared at him from the shadow of a hedgerow.

The man climbed a stile with caution, his slick-soled shoes making him unsteady. He jumped down from the top rather than risking more steps.

"Ouch! That's torn it. I've twisted my ankle."

A second man approached. He was shorter and rounder, and his voice when he spoke had the jocular tone of someone who relished both drinking and pulling elaborate practical jokes. "Good night, Will. Finally made it, did you?"

 Will glared. "You sent me the wrong way on purpose. Damn your eyes, Francis."

"Damn your balls," Francis said, and laughed heartily. "You should see your face. But you can't get a sense of the countryside at night if you don't spend some time here."

Will wiped sheep droppings from his shoe onto the grass. "You told me there were fairies here. All I've seen is sheep and a courting couple--who weren't very keen to greet me."

"Oh, you haven't seen any of the fair folk?" Francis' broad face went babyish with exaggerated surprise.

Will narrowed his eyes. "You know I haven't. I'm going home."

"Stop by the wood first, that way." He pointed a pudgy finger at a dark stand of trees in the distance. "I daresay all the good folk are dancing, it being such a fair night. It's not far."

"Come with me."

"I can't, Will. My niece would be terribly upset if she woke and her Uncle Francy had gone. I'll be inside if you need anything."

His face tingling with fury and shame, Will limped up a rutted lane. He was quite certain Francis had

...not finished the sentence, much less the story, apparently.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That goose is cooked

Our local Food City carries goose. I discovered this while pricing turkeys, but I didn't buy a goose until I noticed that Walmart also carries goose but they are around $60 each. The Food City geese are much more reasonable, around $20. So I bought a goose at Food City and stuck it in the freezer for Christmas baking.

I finally got around to cooking it yesterday. I won't go into too much detail, because not too many people I know would be interested in cooking goose, but I will point out that when people say, "Goose is greasy," they are NOT KIDDING. I opened the plastic wrapping and my hands were immediately covered in grease. It's that greasy, really. Ever handled raw bacon with your bare hands? It's like that, only greasier.

But that's good, actually. Goose grease is healthier and seriously tastier than bacon grease. I have a ton of it (ton here equals about three cups) in the fridge, nicely rendered and ready to use.

Anyway, the goose itself. Goose is considered a red meat, and I overcooked it despite all my care. It's easy to overcook. It wasn't bad, but kind of chewy due to being overcooked. It tastes like dark meat turkey to me, which I like. But turkeys cost about half as much and are easier to deal with. The vegetables I cooked with the goose were excellent, as was the complicated sauce I made to go with the whole thing. See the mortar and pestle in the pic above, to the left and a bit behind the goose? I've had that mortar and pestle for at least 15 years, but the sauce was the first time a recipe has ever called for a mortar and pestle. I was so pleased that I got to grate cumin seed, caraway seed, celery seed, and a lot of other spices together.

In lighter baking news, I made cookies a few days before Christmas and they turned out great as always.
 Kind of awkward to roll them out, though, since my rotten horrible hideous counters are tiled. Who the hell chose tile counters for this house? When I'm rich I will have them yanked out and something smooth and durable put in their place. Also something more attractive. As you can see, I had to use the chopping board (the one I use only for vegetables, not meat) to roll out the dough.
 The first batch of cookies ready to go into the oven. I ended up with about 4 dozen cookies total, and could have had a bit more if I hadn't snacked on the dough.
And the cookies just after I took them out of the oven. They are mostly butter. Butter and sugar and green food coloring.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and got lots of good food to eat.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Shooting Stars

Tonight is the Geminid meteor shower. I got off work at eight, and had to stop by the store on the way home (since tomorrow after work I leave to go visit my brother and his family in Pennsylvania). By the time I got home it was well after nine and getting colder and colder. As I walked from the garage to the house, I looked up to see if the night was clear enough to maybe see a shooting star. I'd never seen one before.

The stars glittered like ice against a black sky. But I had stuff to do before I could stay out and look. I changed clothes, started a load of laundry, finished wrapping a couple of presents to take up north with me, and slurped a mug of hot tea. Then I put my heavy fleece jacket back on and went back outside.

I have a pair of white adirondack chairs out front, and I sat down in one. It was covered with a glaze of frozen dew, I discovered too late. Also I was wearing shorts since my jeans were in the wash and I couldn't find my sweatpants. I huddled in my jacket and stared up at the sky.

And almost immediately, a flash of white light streaked past in the sky. It was gone so fast I almost couldn't believe what I'd seen. It really did look like a star had loosened from its pin and fallen, vanishing almost immediately. I gasped and whispered to myself, "I saw one!"

I'd only intended to stay outside long enough to see one. It was just so cold. But I kept telling myself, "Just one more," and then I would see another and it would be one more, and one more, and one more. They weren't constant, and I had long minutes in between to shiver while I stared upward.

I thought about how the stars are so far away, and I wondered how many of them have planets around them and how many of those planets have creatures living on them. And I wondered if somewhere on one of those worlds, in an impossibly alien countryside, someone was watching the stars and wondering if somewhere out there someone else was watching the stars too....

Monday, December 3, 2012

This is why we can't have nice things

Tears were shed. That's all I want to say about that.

The cat brought the tree down, of course. I wasn't in the room so I don't know what he did, but I don't think he'll ever do it again.

So yes, I was foolish to put the glass ornaments on the tree, but look on the bright side: most of them broke so now I don't have to worry about them breaking. Also, fewer ornaments to put up after Christmas.

Some of the ornaments that broke were very old, but some of the oldest ornaments came through without a scratch, like the porcelain bells that belonged to my great-grandmother* (and which I have moved to the mantel now). I guess they've been through toddlers, dogs, and cats before. Likewise, the tree is fine. It's made of wood and aluminum so it's pretty much indestructible unless you actually set it on fire. And I hid the matches so Jekyll couldn't do that.

The clean-up was not fun, especially since I was sobbing hysterically. I mean come on, who wouldn't? But as I swept and mopped and mopped again to get all the glass up, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of Christmas and glass ornaments, and reminded myself that it's just stuff. If the whole house had burnt down (it won't; I hid the matches, remember?) it would still be just stuff I'd lost. The memories live inside me.

It still wasn't any fun to clean up. But the floor is really clean now. And the tree is up again, although I need to do a better job distributing the remaining ornaments because it's kind of lopsided. Also, I will have to get the boxes of ornaments out of the garage again because there were a lot of them that wouldn't fit on my little tree, and now they will.

*or my mom found them in an antique store, hard to remember

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Your future is too loud

Putting this here solely so I can get twitter to post it with text. Carry on. I took this picture at work--I work at a state college--and the only staging I did was to move the quiet please sign over about a foot so it would be even funnier.

Welcome to December

I put the tree up last Sunday. I was cleaning that room anyway and thought, "What the hell, it's time." I had considered not putting up a tree at all this year, but I suspect that would have made me even sadder. I did do some crying while I decorated, but was fortunately distracted by Jekyll investigating everything. He didn't try to treat the tree or the decorations as cat toys, just batted at them a few times and sniffed them, so I put the glass ornaments on. So far none of them are broken.

Here's a picture of Jekyll and the tree. I wasn't done decorating it at this point; it's even more loaded with shinies now.

Yesterday I crossed the finished line of NaNo with just over 50,000 words! I finished Wharf Rat entirely and wrote 8,000 words on Adventures in Zoology, getting me very close to the end. I'm going to try to finish Adventures in Zoology by the end of December, which will mean I wrote two books entirely and finished writing three this year.

Next year? My next project will be YA, as high concept as I can make it. I've got to start selling books, not just because it's just ridiculous to me that I haven't broken through yet despite all the effort I put into writing and improving, but also because--to be blunt--I'd like to keep my house. I don't make a lot of money in my day job and I never expected I'd need to pay the mortgage alone. So in 2013 I've got to be commercial and practical. Suggestions for high-concept, whizbang, this-has-never-been-done-before-yet-somehow-it's-very-similar-to-things-that-sell-well YA plots welcome.