Saturday, January 26, 2013

baked good

After the angst comes baking of the comfort food. We're looking for easy peasy because we're gloomy, not creative, at the moment.

Except--hold on--I was creative enough to come up with a recipe yesterday.

You must start out with a nearly empty jar of Trader Joe's morello cherries in light syrup. Put a bunch of the cherries in something like a pie. Be left with about a cup of cherries bobbing around in lot of that syrup. Because you're cheap and those cherries are pricey, feel reluctant to dump the light syrup. (I use it to reconstitute dried fruit too--simmer dried fruit with the stuff)

Ok, recipe time.

1 box of white cake mix, minus 6 Tbl (you can probably go for the whole box, but ours was missing 6 Tbl used in another recipe)
1 cup of TJ left over light cherry syrup (a bit more if you have a whole box of mix)
1/4 cup oil (a bit more if you have a whole box)
3 eggs.
left over cherries (about a cup, or more if you have more)

Put it all in the mixer and let it go for a couple of minutes while you wander around looking for the right pan. If you want big chunks of cherry, don't put them in until later. The way I did it, no cherry bits were recognizable. This was good because the youngest kid doesn't like cherry. He loved this cake.

Put in greased 9x13 pan
sprinkle on streusel topping on in an effort to hid hideous color of cake.

What do you do for streusel? here's what I do:  Maybe a cup of oatmeal, few tablespoons of brown sugar, a few of butter. Work this stuff together with your fingers because it's easier that way. I also ground up some cereal because I like doing that. Maybe a tablespoon of flour or so. You know, standard streusel top. Add a little cinnamon if you want.
If you prefer stricter recipes, this might work. But put in some oatmeal because that's yummy.

 bake your cake for about 25 minutes at 350, but I mean it when I say "about." Our oven isn't yours (and aren't you lucky). Maybe follow what the cake mix box says. I bet these would be great muffin/cupcakes. You could even pretend they were healthy.

This cake is surprisingly good. Not very pretty, though it's not as ugly as you'd think from the picture, which was taken with a skanky camera.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just Asking

If you were going to reinvent yourself, how would you do it?

This part is important: you're female and no longer young, so you're not in demand sexually. You're invisible to anyone who doesn't know you, and to nearly everyone who does know you. That means any reinvention has to come internally.
If you believe in God, do you ask him to do the heavy lifting?
If you don't, to whom do you appeal?
Would you start with something easy, like chopping off and dying your hair? (This is for your own view of yourself, remember.)
Would you walk away from EVERYTHING or just parts of your life?
How would you decide which bits to leave behind and which to keep?
How discontent do you have to be to take action?
Would you make lists?
Would you ask friends?
What if you don't have friends like that?
Would you read books?
Which books?
How soon would you give up because you're a coward?
Or is it because you're lazy?
Or maybe you're not unhappy enough?
How much like making New Year's resolutions is this activity?

If you were to think of yourself as a lobster, the water you're in will never be comfortable but it probably won't boil. Perhaps when you begin die (of natural causes)--that's when you'll wonder why you stayed in the slick-sided pot.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Breaking up

It's been coming on for a couple of years, I guess.

You know how it hurts when someone you care about disses you? You spend hours trying to solve it, allowing encounters, conversations to run over and over the mental gerbil wheel until you feel sick or, occasionally, come up with a solution.

Yeah, none of that is happening here.

I think it's when you didn't answer my first email that I started to wonder if we'd reached the end of our years-long relationship. I just sent my third and even if you do answer, I wonder....this might be enough.

 The end seriously started with a misunderstanding--on my part, I apologize. Then you were supposed to say, oh that's okay, Kate.

Naw, RWA, I wasn't surprised you did NOT say "even though your writing partner isn't a member, we'll let your book stay in the contest," even after I offered to pay the higher non-member fee.

Hey, I could have sworn Bonnie was a member. I thought I saw her in a group RWA photo.

I was slightly taken aback when you didn't accept my offer to allow her join up and make the book legit for the RITAs.

I got the email in which you firmly reiterated the fact that the book is out of the contest. Okay, okay. I didn't really think it would win. I entered because I can and because I buy lottery tickets.

It's when I wrote to ask for my money back and you didn't answer that I began to wonder why.

I expect if I make a fuss, I might get the money back. But even as I considered what to do next, the whispers of doubts had taken hold. Why did I bother to enter? lead to Why do I bother to stay?

You've done a lot for me in the past. I appreciate it. Because of an RWA meeting, my book got to Hilary and Kensington published me. Because of RWA, I've met a lot of people I admire and like. 

But lately, it's meant work for me and nada from you. This work is on local level, I admit it. Even locally, I'm a pretty invisible member--but I do my part. I'm currently the main coordinator for a local contest and that has a lot to do with my grumpiness about you. Gad, I hate that sort of work. Other people do it cheerfully, efficiently, and without grousing. Not me.

 But the other sort of chores, I've done happily enough. For years, I lined up speakers. I've judged and coordinated parts of contests that I wasn't qualified to enter (open to unpubbed only). I've talked to unpubbed members about who to call when. I've given workshops, critiqued manuscripts and done that whole Give It Back thing.

RWA is a fabulous place for those who are pubbed and well-known. I see the lines at the book sale. I love their workshops. I also see the authors sitting talking to their neighbors and being ignored. When I did the sale, that was me. Hey, I enjoyed talking to Pam Rosenthal, so I didn't mind so much. But still, I knew enough not to do that again. . . .And as for giving workshops. I don't think I have much to say that someone can't say better.

RWA is an even better place for the unpubbed -- yes, yes, join, by all means! It's a wonderful resource.

But for people like me, eh. I guess the only regret I have is that yearly conference.
Workshops about craft? I love them, but can find them elsewhere.
Meeting and greeting industry members? I'm not good in person. I either talk too much or hide in my room.
Seeing people I know and like? That's the sticking point, absolutely. Hmm. 

I've always loathed the phrase "what have you done for me lately?" That doesn't mean it isn't popping into my head a lot at the moment.

Truth is I know you wouldn't miss me, RWA. Maybe I wouldn't miss you either.

You keep the entry fee. Small print rules say you're entitled to it. As someone who's dealt with chapter contests for years, I know the urge is to say screw off, doofus, you should know better.

Okay, I do.

UPDATE: Now my mild indignation is deflated because they answered me about a minute after I posted this (and a couple of hours after my 3rd email) so it wasn't my whining in public that got an email from them. They'll ask the bookkeeper about a refund. But despite the fact that they are professional and eventually answer, the basic fact remains.

RWA feels slightly out-of-date for me. I'm not a mover-shaker and they're the ones who can get the organization to work for them (and who work hard for the organization. I'm not an adolescent who's scornful of the natural joiners).

You new romance writers? Join ASAP.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Late, but doing Marie Treanor's bidding


I got tagged by about six people, all writers who'd been tagged.  We're talking chain letter promo. I first jumped on and agreed to do it a week after Marie Treanor. I must have meant TWO weeks after.

I'm honored that so many people thought to include me in the Next Big Thing Tag-You're-It party. I can't think of who else to tag, unfortunately. The buck is stopping here. More like petering out...the end of the line. The last of the great big things. 

What is the working title of your book? 
Kenway and Gerard. I'm writing it with Bonnie Dee. That won't be the title.

Where did the idea come from for the book? A panic attack. I was having one and thought it would be interesting if it was actually attached to something real, instead of bad chemicals. So one of our characters has them every time he goes to his family home in the country. 

What genre does your book fall under? 
m/m historical 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Ever see Lion in Winter? There's a very young Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton in it and those are our guys. Or maybe a younger Daniel Day-Lewis and Damian Lewis. (the Lewis twins!)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
He's come home to face the past and finds a future. 

Where do you plan to submit your book, or will you self publish it? 
We talked about publishing it with our usual fabulous publishers (Samhain or Loose Id) but we think we're going to try for self-publishing. Now that we have a back-list, perhaps it will be easier. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Still working on it and we're nearly done.  We should have the first draft done in a month, maybe less. We might not be publishing the traditional way, but we're going to make sure we get the book as close to professionally finished as we can, so we'll hire an editor and a proofreader.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The other Bonnie Dee/ Summer Devon m/m historicals! Intense physical and emotional relationships.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The need to write every day? The desire to work with Bonnie again? 

I'd love to work with Marie Treanor. She's one of my fave writers.
 Some day, some day. . .

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
 We have a feral child in this book. It's been fun writing a nuisance of a kid who manages to tame two adult men.  

Thursday, January 03, 2013

true regret

Yesterday, as I did my quarterly whine**, I tried to think of actual actions I regret, careerwise.  There are a few lost opportunities, stories that could have used more work, dumb moves, that kind of thing. But I only got a true pang of regret when I remembered the guy I interviewed about 20 years ago.

Back then, I worked for local magazines and newspapers (one of which still exists wowee). I wrote free-lance until I got a job as an editor.

I wrote dozens? hundreds? of articles during my feature article years. I interviewed all sorts of people--bee-keepers, collectors, athletes, politicians, movers-and-shakers, bankers, acrobats, a real cowboy, Billy Ripken, artists, actors, writers, chicken farmers, crooks, Other Women, home-schoolers, police officers, judges, lawyers....

Regrets. Right.

When I think about all those interviews, two stand out: one with a woman lived in Frederick in the 1940s and another with a man who'd stormed Normandy during D-Day. I was supposed to write a series of articles about life in the US and in Europe for Frederick people during WW2.

The woman told me about her life. She lived in a nursing home and what else did she have to do with her time? She talked about life in World War 2 and World War 1. She was a nurse through both wars.

She described recovering from the flu of 1918, climbing out of bed to discover that her husband and infant lay dead in the next room. And she talked about what it was like to be a woman raising a child on her own and then what it was like to outlive everyone she loved. She apparently hadn't talked about some of these things--the stories didn't come out fluently. Perhaps it had only been a long time since she talked? But I remember her hesitancy and I sensed she didn't often talk about the past.  Even then I felt as if I'd been given a gift.

I think I used two sentences about her in the article.

The last of the WW2 series got shortened? canned? I can't remember. Maybe I quit before I finished? All this regret feels personal so it must have been something I did. . . Anyway, in the end, the man who described landing on the beach didn't get to see his words in the magazine.

His descriptions would be familiar to anyone who's seen a WW2 movie. The ping of bullets hitting the sides of the landers sounded like mad typists at work. (The guy, whose name I've forgotten, liked to talk). He didn't get seasick, like most of the guys who were jammed onto the boat, but the smell of vomit and fear eventually got to him so he puked too.

 I listened to him talk and tried to imagine this guy, overweight and kind of goofy looking, in a war. He talked and talked and began to cry. I got embarrassed for him (and thinking about it, now I'm embarrassed for me to even worry about trivial shit like that). I think I ended the interview by pretending to have an appointment. I can't remember what he said nearly as clearly as I can my own dumb actions. Typical.

I'd taped the interview and I took notes. The tape broke. I think I made a half-assed attempt to fix it. That article didn't happen. I lost the notes from the interview--to give me a tiny bit of credit, I did cart them around for years.

I don't remember their names. She seemed elegant and put together for someone who lived in a nursing home. He worked in a funeral home.

My greatest writerly regret of my career so far -- not keeping their words or their names.

**every few months whether I'm up for it or not, the whine pours out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

haven't we heard this before? does it help?

Whine no one buys my books anymore

stop writing then.

Whine what else am I supposed to do? Mike suggested being a greeter at Walmart and he wasn't kidding. I'm not qualified to do squat. I'm too old to be a waitress.

then keep writing.

Whine but I'm not making enough money

then get a part time job

Whine but there's nothing out there and I've looked. why are you so unsympathetic? you know I go into these declines every now and then. Particularly at holiday times when everyone says make goals! improve your life! 

and what do these introspection moments do for you? anything?

Whine they make me take stock of my life.

hey, admit it. your life is pretty good, right? 

whine it's okay, except for the writing. and the occasional glitches in the life and the being fat part. No, stop, I don't want to hear about that.

fine, we'll stick to the writing. you like the writing. you even sort of enjoyed editing that godawfulbookfromhell last week

whine fuck you ....except for the selling then.

are you willing to put in more effort on that?

whine I don't know howwwwwwwwwwww

are you willing to learn how?

whine I've tried. I go to the seminars. no one seems to know howwwwwwwww

fine. then how about you write the books and shut up?

whine yes and no. write, yes; shut up, no. It feels necessary. If I don't I'll stay depressed and not move along.

I wish I understood that. 

me too.

but the fact is, no one in the world wants to hear about your whining. 

whine tough shit. I'm doing it anyway.

why in semi-public?

whine why not?


whine okay.

carry on. 

whine whine whine gribble sigh. whine. whine whine whine