Entries tagged with “daily life


I know, I always call my updates that when it’s been friggin’ forever, but I don’t care even one bit!

First of all, I must mention that there’s a new Films of High Adventure over at Fantasy Magazine, this one on The NeverEnding Story. We’re probably the nicest we’ve ever been to a movie prominently featuring an annoying moppet telling the audience what they’ve seen/are about to see, so, yay!

Moving on, I’ll be heading to Florida this Saturday to visit my folks! I’m looking forward to reading some novels, chilling out, cooking some food, doing crafty stuff with my mom, taking walks with my dad, all that sort of thing. Sadly, John will be in Orlando at a staff conference for his job while I’ll be in Tampa, but I think we’re going to organize some WoW parties with Raechel, who’ll be holding down the forts in Boulder.

I am also very proud that I just sent out the novel I finished up recently to the host of awesome beta-readers who volunteered to tell me if it sucks or not, and also correct my grammar. I am excited to get some outside eyes on this project, because I am too blinded by love for it to be objective at all. I know we need some time apart, this book and I, so I’ll be reading some non-fiction so maybe I can perk up a few details, and also reading some fiction to cleanse my palette. I’ll also be working on some various and sundry fiction and creative non-fiction things, and I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with short form since I can’t recall the last time I wrote a short story.

Additionally, I feel the need to mention that I just read what I believe might be one of the most racist stories ever written, and no, I’m not talking about that piece in the NYT about how Indians have taken over New Jersey (though it was, obviously, in the running). No, I speak instead of Robert E. Howard’s “The Vale of Lost Women,” which wasn’t published during his lifetime but still managed to find its way to the printed page several times. I know it’s pretty un-shocking to out Howard as a racist, but seriously. I give authors from the past so much leeway when it comes to the odd racist comment or sexist trope. I feel strongly that there’s a place and time for holding people accountable for their beliefs–and that people, both living and dead, should be held accountable for their beliefs–but that such accountability need not be the only way to consume and interpret stories written during a different time. This story, however, gets a big brown F in every way. It is hideous. Not only does it have Conan straight-up telling a girl he’d rape her if he felt like it (and, OK, whatever, I’d forgive that in isolation, it’s a Conan story), but the girl in question is a little white girl with blonde hair who was captured by black savages and raped by their hideous leader. Let’s just for a moment consider Howard’s description of the leader, a fellow by the name of Bajujh (FAIL, already):

On an ivory stool, flanked by giants in plumed headpieces and leopardskin girdles, sat a fat, squat shape, abysmal, repulsive, a toad-like chunk of blackness, reeking of the dank rotting jungle and the nighted swamps. The creature’s pudgy hands rested on the sleek arch of his belly; his nape was a roll of sooty fat that seemed to thrust his bullet-head forward. His eyes gleamed in the firelight, like live coals in a dead black stump.

Woah. Also, the rest of the language regarding Bajujh and his tribe hits all the notes–the black folks are compared to animals (“panther-like”) or demeaned for possessing native African-ish features (their hair is described as “kinky” and “wooly” as compared to Conan’s and the little white girls’ flowing tresses, among other crimes of wtf). The women are described uniformly as “wenches” (often “ribald wenches”) with white eyeballs rolling wickedly in their black faces or, by Conan himself, as “black sluts” who make him sick with their very appearance. Jesus. So, yeah. I don’t know why this struck me as being blog-worthy, I just. . . I’m making my way through my anthology of all the Conan stories, and up until now there’s been some serious-business Orientalism and some problematic white-dude-conquers-brown-people-for-good nonsense, but this was my first encounter with out and out WHAAAAAA?!?!?! in that book. I’ve read novels about slavery written by white English during the 18th century that were less racist and accorded more respect and humanity to black folks than “The Vale of Lost Women.” Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Finally, and most of all, sadly, I recently had to put my beloved cat Penelope to sleep. About a year ago, the vet noticed some of her liver values were elevated. Perhaps eight months ago, she was diagnosed with fatty liver disease, which is curable with effort and attention. We gave her the effort, we gave her the attention. Things were looking up for a time, she was steadily improving. Then, right before we went down to Florida for weddings and family visiting, her shape got kinda odd. At first it looked like maybe she’d just gotten a pot belly–she was eating more–but I took her in for a checkup before the vet had recommended anyways, to be sure. It turns out that her liver had failed, though her pathology wasn’t totally consistent with that or anything else. I believe now that a number of things just gave out at once. We did everything the vet recommended, but it wasn’t enough. The vet was frankly baffled she was even alive and as perky as she was toward the end. Most cats, apparently, would’ve succumbed to disease or depression far earlier. Penelope was a fighter, though–she loved her life, it was obvious she was trying every bit as hard as we were, but she started to decline after a few mild gains. A few days before we made the decision to have the vet come to the house and help her pass on, even though she was having trouble jumping, she got into bed with me, something she hadn’t done in years. Every day she meowed and purred and snugged and took a few little laps of tuna water or hummus, even though she was having a hard time keeping herself clean.

I miss her so much. Her favorite chair looks so empty now, the little bed next to mine that she slept in toward the end of things seems even smaller. I had been getting up in the middle of the night to pet her and check on her after the diagnosis/prognosis, and a few times I’ve woken up for that purpose only to realize that she is beyond being checked on any more. I am glad she is at peace, but twelve years wasn’t enough for me.

It’s been a while, so I feel like it’s time for a reasonably thorough update! Fascinating, I’m sure, are the following bullet points, but if you’d rather see pretty pictures, scroll to the bottom for some nature.

  • I am heading down to Tampa soon, to be with my family. I’m very happy about this, as I haven’t seen them since we heard the news. Though going there/being there will not yield the control I wish I had over this situation, it will be nice to be present.
  • I have decided, on the advice of folks far wiser than I, to let my Big Project rest a while. I was getting incredibly frustrated with the edits, and ignoring advice to take a break, step away, because I wanted to power through it and get it out to beta-readers, but I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs and maybe making mistakes. I have the first volume wrapped up and tidy, and it’s staying like that for a while. I broke when I realized I was most enthusiastic about the stuff I’d written months and months ago, which needed the most work but felt the freshest, and I was like– oh, well, duh. I haven’t even looked at this section since, when? October? November? So came the self-knowledge (γνῶθι σεαυτόν, Molly) of burnout. At first I was afraid if I left off before it was done enough to show to friends I’d never come back to it, but I know that’s not true because I still catch myself thinking about it and wanting to work on it, but I’m not letting myself.
  • In lieu of working on the Big Resting Project (BRP), I am tearing ass through the planning stages/beginning writing of a Smaller but still Big Project (SBP) I’ve been itching to work on for months now. I realized I was shooting myself in the foot by not tackling it right goddamn now because the major part of it will take place in Colorado in the spring/summer, which, OMG! I just looked out my window and indeed, it is springtime. Now I get to write from life, which is incredibly fun and rewarding, and I can already tell this project will be leaner, tighter, and infinitely more ridiculous than the BRP. I’ve learned a lot from said BRP and am not rushing into this one headlong without proper planning, proper thoughts on entryways into the novelette, proper understanding of What I Want, length, etc. Unlike other projects, I’ve mapped this out completely, I know where I’m going, I know the wordcount I’m going for, etc. I’m also, as a sort of mental exercise, not doing much book-related research beyond knowing the exact year so it makes sense, knowing a little bit about the premises, that sort of thing. Most of the “research” will be watching movies, actually, since I’m going for a sort of cinematic feel for this project. At any rate, babbling aside, I’ve been having a goddamn blast doing it so far and I’m more in love with it than I’ve maybe ever been with anything I’ve done. Likely this also has to do with the fact that the BRP is on Serious Matters and the SBP is–well, it’s pretty fucking ridiculous. Lulz.
  • Sooner, rather than later, I’ll be announcing something pretty cool here! So “watch this space” if you care to.
  • Running with the Pack is coming out sooooooooooooon omg!!
  • Fucking magnets, how do they work? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google that shit. Also, here is this inspirational cartoon on the same subject, for your inspiration of the day:

  • To round out this post, pictures from my last visit to Estes Park, which was amazing. We went there with friends David and Luke from Tallahassee, and ahhhhhh. Delightful.

me knee-deep in snow standing in the middle of a still iced-over lake

coyote!!

you know you wish you lived AN HOUR FROM THIS LIKE I DO OMG

some other lake I can't recall the name of

Wooooo! Love to everyone.

I am stuck. Seriously, mood-crushingly, tar-pit stuck. In the weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year I wrote between 15,000-20,000 words on my current project, it flowed beautifully. Good stuff, natural dialogue, lovely. Then. . . nothing. For weeks. Literally. I’ve gone through all my usual tricks– research, new music, working on other stuff, editing the section from the beginning, but I think I’ve written maybe 1000 words since The Stop. I’ve since written three short stories (approx. 18,000 words), so nothing shabby there, but it’s not the same for me. I want so much for this project to come together, I’m in the home stretch (I think I’ll be “done” in about 20,000 words, and on to the editing stage), I just need to rally and push through but everything I write reads like zzzzzzzzzzzzzz and meh.

I’m not sure what’s wrong. I know what I want to do with this and why and (kind of) how, but I pull up my Scrivener file and just end up staring at it. It’s very disheartening, and it’s been making me really, really, really unhappy. It’s gotten so bad I’m worried everything about this project will be a wash, I’ll have to start over, and I know sometimes it goes like that, but I really thought I had something here. I mean, Christ, I do have something– I have a something that is currently 131,000 words (Jesus Christ, the editing down is going to be painful), so for it to dissipate at this point seems bizarre and stupid.

Hopefully something will happen and I’ll receive some sort of inspiration in the form of a chisel that can crack the concrete surrounding my creativity. Hopefully.

I haven’t posted about food-related stuff for a while, so let’s get down to it. First, I want to give a shout-out (the “big ups corner” spot for the week) to Divvies, a company I just discovered because they had a big basket of their cookies at Whole Foods. They are completely awesome! I tried the choco-chip cookies, but I’mma try others next time I go back, to be sure. I really like their slogan: “made to share!” Friendly, and much appreciated I’m sure by anyone in an office or at a party who’s vegan or has egg, dairy, or peanut allergies. They make cookies, candy (chocolates, jawbreakers, and gummy stars, to name a few), and cupcakes. Check ’em out!

As for me, I haven’t been cooking as much variety as of late– mostly I just do rice and tofu and veggies for dinner these days– but I did make a kick-ass pizza the other night, with the cashew goat cheese I made during VeganMoFo, thinly sliced pears, black pepper, and some seitan browned with some shallots, and that was fucking delicious. That said, I actually bothered to document a food experiment last night (!) that eclipsed pretty much anything I’ve made of late. I got the base recipe here, after doing an internet search for seitan satay, but I modified it and used a different methodology, which I’ve outlined below:

Seitan Satay

1 large shallot or two small, peeled and cut into chunks

4 garlic cloves, ends cut off, maybe halved if you care to

2 tsp canola oil

Equivalent of 4 tsp ginger, peeled and cut into chunks

4 Tbs tamari

The juice of two limes

2 Tbs toasted sesame oil

4 Tbs agave nectar

2 Tbs siracha or other asian chili sauce (I use the kind with the rooster on it)

24 oz seitan, cut or torn into chunks (I used 2 boxes of the WestSoy kind from the supermarket)

Preheat oven to 45o degrees F. Take all ingredients except for seitan and throw into a blender, blend until smoothish. Put your seitan in a 9×13 baking dish (lasagna-style) in a single layer, then pour the slurm over everything. It will look like this:

At this point, let the seitan marinate for about 30-45 minutes as you make your rice (I used jasmine), and then bake it for about 15 minutes in the marinade– what I mean is just throw the whole thing in the oven and let it go. While it’s baking, make your vegetable. I made some green beans sauteed with minced garlic (about a teaspoon), 3 cloves of pressed garlic, toasted sesame oil, and salt and pepper:

Pull out the seitan, it should be bubbly and the exposed parts of the seitan should be browned and luscious. I plated everything together, rice, seitan on top, green beans off to the side, and for extra deliciousness I put some cilantro leaves on top, and I also added two condiments: a lime wedge for squeezing, and some peanut sauce out of a jar for adding a touch of peanutty sweetness. OMG.

I really can’t say enough about how utterly delicious this was– I struck gold with the original recipe (the marinade is delicious on its own) and the saucy-method pleased my curry-loving self. So today, wanting a redux of those flavors, I used my brand new To-Go Ware lunchbox and packed myself a feast. Layer one, rice and seitan:

Layer two, green beans. I used the dressing cup to hold my cilantro:

Ready go go:

And speaking of, it’s lunchtime! Posting all this has made me hungry.

Huzzah! The contest is now over, the entries published, and I can now get back to my regularly scheduled nothing-much around here.

Things have been good around my neck of the woods, but as usual, once I felt like “yeah! I’m truckin with the novel!” I got seriously, unhappily stuck. Thems the breaks. I really want to get back on track, it sucks. Oh well. Something will trigger me sooner or later!

I did however bang out a short story earlier this week. I’m not sure if I like it. It is kind of gross and kind of weird and kind of about morally bankrupt people and. . . well, that’s not usually my thing. I can’t decide if I’m going to submit it to the venue I wrote it specifically for. We’ll see.

I’m thinking about applying to go to Clarion.

I’ve been making kimchi at home. Somewhere along the line I stopped doing homemaker-ish things and I kind of miss it. I’m trying to do more stuff like that, and kimchi is fun and delicious. Mine is too salty, I need to do something about that in the future. The past two days I’ve also been making awesome smellywater to humidify my home, as my husband’s yoga guru (I’m really not sure what the heck she is, he goes to her for yoga and massage and also apparently for little bottles of nose-oil and recipes for a turmeric-based sinus tea that has now stained my pots, my cutting board, and my mugs) suggested some of his sinus troubles might be related to a dry home. The smellywater (it’s not really potpourri since it’s not dry, I guess?) is just water in my crockpot, into which I throw lemon peels, cloves, rose petals, rosemary, and some essential oils, mostly rosemary and eucalyptus. So my house now smells like that, when it doesn’t smell like catfood (though yesterday Jesse came over when the cat-food smell was strong and asked me what the “tasty smell” was. This is not slander, this happened).

Other than that, meh. Stuck on the novel! It’s making me mad.

I am currently in the throes of the annual trans-Florida cross-state family-visit whirlwind holiday extravaganza, and thus kind of didn’t do a Bloggiversary post as I had intended. Then again I didn’t do anything for my 100th post either, so whatever. Regardless! The contest is long closed, and the 8 official entries and one completely, utterly disqualified entry (from Jesse, who else?) are archived for reading when I get back to my home base in Boulder on the 31st. I should be announcing soon after that, such is the beauty of flash fiction.

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Counting today, there are only ten days left for the entire internet to submit to the Paper Fruit Bloggiversary Contest! So far I’ve got five very fine submissions and counting, so the competition is getting stiff. Remember to email your submission to paperfruitcontest at gmail dot com before December 26th! I am going to visit my family in Florida on the 27th so while flying cross-country and then driving cross-state I will be reading the submissions and will announce winners around the New Year after I return.

In other news, here is a list of search-terms WordPress is telling me that people have used to find my blog:

animals looking cute

“gpa for my master’s

penis toes (this is most certainly my personal favorite)

atop write

finnegans wake tallahassee

vinegar spray bottle

russian colonel hat

Also of note: I received my very first personal rejection letter today! While being rejected nearly always sucks, it was cool that the editor of the magazine chose to comment on my story. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the criticism– take it as something I should “fix,” or just chalk it up to personal preference– but still!

Here is a list of three true facts about relationships in modern Japan that I have learned from watching years of anime:

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Life have been so busy in Tanzer Town I feel like Richard Scarry should write a book about me. While I haven’t been slaying any terrible dragons, I just finished up my very first proofreading gig for Prime Books, which was a tremendous amount of fun. The delight I receive from marking up a manuscript with a red pen is beyond acceptable, but when I mentioned this to Sean, my editor, he responded that, quote, “anyone who is in publishing is certifiably insane.” So OK then.

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So it’s official: I am the Assistant Editor of Fantasy Magazine. Seriously. I am beyond stoked about the opportunity to work with everyone there. This is an honor and a privilege.