Friday, April 27, 2012

willwriteforchocolate Yahoo group, Sewing Project: Nightgowns

UPDATE - BREAKING NEWS: Some writers from SAB have followed me to Chocolate Bootcamp so willwriteforchocolate now has 7 MEMBERS. Competition for that chocolate is going to be stiff! HEHEHE what fun!

Before we get into nightgowns (hehehe I'm already in mine) we have a couple of other things to talk about.

Savvy Author Bootcamp Update: I will put a wrapup blogpost out on May 1st.

May 1st will be the first day of the newly formed Chocolate Bootcamp For Writers. If you are interested in joining us go here for details.

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 Project nightgown

For over a year some time now I've been planning to take these 3 pieces of fabric:
and 3 of these white, ribbed undershirts:

and make 3 night gowns.

Being the lazy opportunist that I am, tonight seemed like the time since my daughter was here earlier and set the sewing machine up.  I started on number 1.

Several hours later, I had this:

As I sit here writing this blog, I'm wearing this gown and it's not falling apart. So far so good.

For this kind of project I'm not a precise sewer. Bare necessity in measuring, cutting and seams. This time, however, I'm stopping at one until I buy some elastic. I did the old - sew a seam with basting stitch and pull the thread until it gathers the way you want. It was a pain in the ass.

The problem is, though, who knows when I'll be somewhere to buy elastic? And by then the sewing machine will be put away. And I'll have to lure my daughter over again with subliminal messages that she needs to sew something. Or I could set up the sewing machine myself, I suppose.

Big sigh. I've had this fabric for over a year. It may be another year before I get the other 2 made.

At least I have this one, though. And it's swirly, girly, colorful and comfortable. I like it.

Also, I sewed up the hole in my green pants so - SCORE!

What have you scored lately?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Metaphysical exercise: Forgiveness

A special kind of Julie torture

Okay, covert ops. Or, at the very least, vague references.

I'm smack dab in the middle of you know where, blogging about you know what. (If you don't know, then go to this Julieland blogpost and read my comment. Or stay tuned until I can be a little less covert and I'll explain.)

Big let down. Covert ops didn't work because I forgot that the person who sits in the cubicle behind me is my boss. When he first moved me there, I thought maybe I was needing more supervision. Then I realized he put me there because I'm less annoying than my coworkers who are mostly college kids. (Not that all college kids are annoying but the ones I work with...)

So anywho, I'm writing this from the relative safety of the computer room in my home.

Over in Julieland the card of the day said:
"The answer to your question involves letting go of resentment, judgment, and anger. You already know who or what to forgive: it’s the first person or situation that comes to mind."

The first thing that occurred to me was - work. Then I thought, that is so stupid because in the grand scheme of my life my j.o.b. is about as important to me as



 in a room full of



Well, I do have a lot of irritation about work. And for reasons I will explain later, I probably need to let them go.

So many lies are told at work. And not just my work. The majority of workplaces. And don't try to tell me all about your heaven of a workplace because 'most' would only require 51% and I know 51% of workplaces are telling some lies.

You know what I'm going to do with those lies?


That's right. I'm going to write them on paper and throw them into a trash can labeled dirty rotten lies and then I'm going to burn them. Symbolically. Obviously I'm not going to do it literally because that would require, well, effort.

Big, bad, dirty, rotten, lie - we're not really concerned that much about money / profit / the ridiculous salaries of our upper management and stock holders - our number one concern is patient / client / customer concern or welfare.

Uh huh. On the side of the building that I'm working in right now, that's kind of true. Because it has to be. Because there are laws that make it so. But you don't fool me. I worked on the other side of the building. There you are paying people to pretend they are giving excellent whatever to your patient / client / customers when they are actually empowered to do

BIG
FAT
NOTHING!

And you have set up your training of your poor employees so that it takes them a while to figure out that they are being paid to mislead people.


The people being misled are not having fun, either. Unlike these people on Monty Python:

Because my company, and others, are operating without integrity, and for many, many, many other reasons, people working there (and elsewhere) are


and


These sad, bitter people do a lot of things that are UGLY.

And it makes me furious because I don't like the world they are creating and my grandchildren will have to live and function in that world.

So guess what is in this jar?


Ashes, yes. But whose ashes?

The ashes of my coworkers who


 
and

 
And there are separate jars for the ones who have long, loud conversations where the concept of a 'yankee' is a real, negative thing.

I think some of you know that I am an atheist. But I want to live in a world where I can be an atheist and you can be whatever you want, including a xtian. It is difficult to not develop resentment for xtians when you work in a place where people have all kinds of bible verses, crosses and sayings hung prominently, yet you see them every day doing petty things and evil things, to their coworkers. And making statements that let you know, you need to keep quiet about your beliefs or they will quietly make sure you are fired for manufactured reasons that you can't fight.

There's a special, special jar of ashes for these faux pious people.

This is not paranoia on my part. I have accidentally discovered 2 other atheists who work there and they both agree, undercover, or fired.

So, I fling all of this bad energy out into the light so it can burn up in the sun.

Why do I do that? Because there's a reason. You know there is. Mama don't do nothing without a payoff. (Actually that's not true to a ridiculous extent but another time for that.)

The payoff is this: "You are preparing for a wonderful new chapter of your life, and forgiveness is part of your preparation. It is a refreshing and deeply healing shower of love that cleanses you inside and out. This gives you energy, stamina, and high self-esteem, and it frees you to be yourself."

Again from the same Julieland blogpost from the FORGIVENESS card out of the Saints & Angels Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue.

All this letting go so that one day I can make a living without a j.o.b. and sing along with this song:


Some of you are familiar with Louise Hay. Way, way back in the day, I studied her work some. One of her affirmations sticks to me like a little piece of plastic that refuses to be flicked away, and I use it in this instance.

I RELEASE THESE PEOPLE TO HAPPINESS THAT IS MEANINGFUL TO THEM.

What or who do you need to forgive and why?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Pro Soccer: Rio Ferdinand, Piermario Morosini, willwriteforchocolate Yahoo group, savvyauthors.com

 Chocolate Bootcamp, pandering pics and links galore...

Let's start with the bootcamp update because it makes me happier than a finch hanging upside down, eating black sunflower seeds.


THE FIRST DRAFT OF ACT ONE IS FINISHED.

29,553 words. I was going for 30,000 but I'll settle for that.

I was trying to decide whether I want to fast draft Act 2 or not. (Reminder, fast drafting is writing your scenes in conversation just putting notes about needed narrative in parenthesis so you can go back later.) I tried to come up with a list of pros:



Get it - soccer pros... Which reminds me*

and cons:

But I couldn't come up with any cons. Oh, I could have put a cheesy pic of some convict  here but that wouldn't be true symbolism. Because I really couldn't think of any negatives regarding writing Act 2 in fast draft style.

At least for me. I found it much easier to write the conversation first as that's what moves my stories along. I also found the narrative came together easier.

I do think it wouldn't work for me to do the whole novel fast draft. This way of doing an act in fast draft and then doing the narrative before moving to the next act works best, for me, for this story, for right now.

So, over at Megan's place we hijacked her comments   were having a conversation in her comments about how I would like to keep bootcamp going, somehow after the actual Savvy Author Bootcamp ends April 30th, because it is good for my word count to report everyday to a group of fellow writers.

I couldn't think of a prize significant enough to motivate but cheap enough for participants to afford. The prize for the winning team of SAB writers is a free workshop. Well worth it for the lucky winners which won't be my team. More vague comments about that later so as to avoid hurt feelings.

Kewl Kate suggested chocolate. (She also tried to steal Megan's husband but we'll let them duke that out. wink, wink) I LOVE THE CHOCOLATE IDEA.

We could end up with a finished W.I.P. and this:


Here is my proposal:

The Ongoing, No-Whining, No-Excuses, Chocolate, Writers Bootcamp.

Ongoing because we don't have to stop until we want to.

No-Whining because in SAB there is no whining.

No-Excuses because while they don't whine, all of my teammates do post their word counts with an excuse as to why they're so low. To me they don't even seem low. Did you write words that moved your story along today? Yes? Win! Not excuse.

There are details that would have to be worked out, like where we'd post these word counts. But I have not just one but two very technically inclined daughters that I can blackmail ask to help me set that up.

And we would need a chat room for the occasional writers sprint. It can be done, I know because Shelly Fredman does it frequently to have live chats with her readers.

A writing sprint is fun. You all log into the chat room at the same time. Then time is called and you zoom off to your word software and write for 55 minutes. Then you check back in to the chat room and exchange pleasantries. Then off again for another 55 minutes. Then more pleasantries and goodbyes.

And, though this doesn't help your word count, you get to double any words written in a sprint towards the prize. Awesome, eh? SAB has twice weekly writers sprints.

While I know this would not be easy:

Get it - easy as pie.

It wouldn't be too hard:

Surely you saw this one coming - get it - hard as a rock.

And many of us have incentives to write:

Delia who won a query critique over at The Debutante Ball and is, at this very moment attending a conference, workshopping her current work in progress.

Linda Grimes, the Friday debutante whose first book, In A Fix, comes out Sept 4, 2012 and who is working on book number two.

Megan who, when she's not protecting her husband from mystery writers, is writing a book of her own that we're all tapping our feet, waiting to read. And she's headed for a conference, too.

Kate George, a mystery writer who is blissfully unaware that there are those of us who are putting together a low-road fund to kidnap her and hide her away until she has finished writing the third Bree MacGowan book.

Judie who has been taunting us all month with characters from a book she plans on writing which we are all now salivating to read. I suspect she thinks we'll wait patiently for her to write this book during nanowrimo in SEPTEMBER. Bwahahahahahaha - not bloody likely. Some of the funds from the above low-road fund may have to be subverted.

And then there's Robena, Deborah, and Nan and, and, and... you know who you are!

So no pressure anyone, but if you're up for it - let me know.

Remember, finished W.I.P. and this:

Oops sorry, fantasizing again - I meant this:
Okay - I've rambled on far too long.

Think about the bootcamp.

And on a serious note - *I was so saddened to hear about the death of the Italian soccer player, Piermario Morosini.

July 5, 1986 to April 14, 2012. Only twenty five years old. Tragic.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Romance Novel: Soundtracks, Henningsens, The Band Perry, savvyauthors.com

Henningsens and or The Band Perry

"Play your music on repeat, with the volume loud enough to drown out your internal editor but not so loud you can’t think at all. You’ll know you’ve got the right volume setting when the writing starts to flow." Liz Pelletier (from How to Turn Off Your Internal Editor, a mini lesson from Savvy Author Bootcamp)

I stumbled on to the Henningsens aka the Band Perry recently and I love them despite the fact that I don't usually like country music.

Their lyrics are fantastic.

I put these songs on my ipod:

Postcards From Paris
"It's like finding out your diamond
Is from an old promise ring
Coming back from your fortune teller
She read your cards upside down
The meanest thing you ever did is come around."

All Your Life
"Would you catch a couple thousand fireflies
Put them in a lamp to light my world.
All dressed up in a tux and bowtie.
Hand delivered to a lonely girl."

Hip To My Heart
"Can't even fall for some other man
Cuz brother man
You know how to get hip to my heart"

You Lie
"You lie like a priceless Persian rug on a rich man's floor
You lie like a coondog basking in the sunshine on my porch
You lie like a penny in the parking lot at the grocery store
It just comes way too natural to you
The way you lie"

Unfortunately some of their best songs don't appear to be available anywhere except on youtube.

Clara Henningsen has a great voice. I love this one:
That was 'thirst.mov'

Brian and Aaron Henningsen play great music. Here is my favorite:
Sitting In An Airport Waiting On A Train - Love the lyrics:
"Shouldn't be surprised when a rattlesnake bites
Cause it does what it does
Well you can swallow back shame
You can holler back blame
But it was what it was"

I also liked Moonbeams and Commanche Sioux that I only found on youtube.

They have a popular song that's played on the radio now; If I Die Young. For me, it's just okay.

I hope soon the other songs I like will be ipod available. I'm fairly certain we'll be hearing a lot more from them.

Who have you discovered lately?

Friday, April 13, 2012

2 updates and barefoot dreaming

HIGH HEEL UPDATE:
If you read my fable/rant blogpost here you know my feelings on high heels.

Delia Moran  wrote a very interesting comment to that blogpost and I want to put it here in case people missed it.

"I don't disagree that it's unhealthy. When I talk about history, what I mean is that, from Helenic times right through Victorian times, high heels were worn by both men and women. They were a symbol of status more than anything. It was a way to show the lower classes who was who. People who wore those shoes were not the ones tilling fields or standing and doing manual labor all day. The perpetuation of this type of footwear stemmed from this. The damaging notion of sexiness is a modern permutation. Not everything that has been taken advantage of by the patriarchal society was begun by it. That's all I meant."

Very, very valid point, Delia. Thank you for that.

BAREFOOT DAYDREAMING:
Me, I'm drooling over these - especially after I hounded talked to the guy in a local department store who was wearing these . He said he's been wearing them for 5 months now working all night long stocking shelves on that awful floor and he still loves his toe gloves.

Nothing like an unsolicited testimonial to make my toes tingle! Uh, well, that might be an exaggeration. Probably a door better left closed, eh?

BOOTCAMP UPDATE:

I'm at roughly 18,000 words. It's all fast drafted and it's act one. I'm very pleased with the fact that it ended at a turning point where Taffy makes a definite choice that will change her life at least temporarily.

On to act two. Or maybe not. I'm considering writing in the narrative for act one first as I kind of need to know how far Taffy and York have gotten in their relationship.

We'll see.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cookbook: The Casserole Queens, Author: Crystal Cook, Sandy Pollock, Cozy Tea Shop Mystery Novel: Agony of the Leaves, Author: Laura Childs

 casserole, cake and tea

My second husband always considered me to be a great cook and a terrible cook at the same time. He, of course, being a great cook all the time. And he was. But he knew it, in that obnoxiously vain way that is part of his charm.

He would tell you that I'm a great cook because I cook delicious food. In his opinion, I'm also a terrible cook because I can never make the same thing twice. I would find a recipe and make it and it would be good. However maybe I didn't have the vegetable broth it called for so I substituted ginger tea instead. Next time I made the same recipe, he would sit down wanting the same taste as before. He wouldn't find it because I had forgotten about the ginger tea and gone back to vegetable broth.

Get the picture?

I dearly love casseroles. The idea of dinner all in one pan that I put together and then leave in the oven for a while pleases me greatly. Add a salad and voila, hearty meal.

I was on a mad dash through  the library with my list and I saw a book on the end of one of the aisles that I had to snatch up - The Casserole Queens Cookbook by Crystal Cook and Sandy Pollock. When I got it home it turned out to be good enough to go on my book buy list.

We are having a very late birthday dinner for a couple of family members and they wanted chicken fettuchini alfredo. I pulled out the cookbook and lo and behold right there on page 74 - Chicken Penne Pasta With Pink Sauce. I showed the birthday folks the recipe and they thought it sounded good.

H o w e v e r...one family member doesn't like bell peppers & we never cook with capers & proscuitto =ham & they really prefer rotini noodles.

(Rotini noodles which, btw, we have a lot of in the cabinet already. And since Megan is a bad influence and now I prefer to use things we have already even though I don't participate in Lent...)

So here is the mutated recipe I went with: (Remember John Larouche  told us mutation is good.)

Ingredients:
6 oz dried rotini noodles // 3 boneless, skinless whole chicken breasts // 2 tbsps olive oil // s&p // cooking spray // 2 garlic cloves, minced // 1 cup coarsely chopped ham // 1 tsp dried basil, crushed // 1 15 oz jar marinara // 1 10 oz jar alfredo // 1/3 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:
Cook, drain and set aside pasta.
Coat chicken breasts with OO and s&p. Bake until cooked through. Cool. Dice and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat a 9 by 13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over med heat add OO, chicken, ham, garlic and basil. Cook a few minutes.
Add chicken mixture to pasta mixture.
Mix marinara and alfredo.
Layer half chicken-pasta mixture, 1 cup pink sauce, other half chicken-pasta mixture, rest of pink sauce.
Sprinkle top with parmesan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until heated thoroughly & parm is melted and brown.

Here is a picture of the casserole in the pan:



A serving of casserole:

Yum!

You can't have a birthday dinner without a cake and they wanted the lemon icecream cake I made once, forever ago for a Mother's Day tea we had. Yeah, right. Long since lost that recipe. Found the closest thing to the recipe that I remember  here except I tweaked it to be a one layer (9 by 13) cake.

Here's a picture of the cake:

(Ignore the ugly pan. I had a little mishap with the original pan. If I tried to tell you about all my cooking mishaps, we'd be here all day.)

A serving of cake:

It was delicious.


Speaking of tea (yes we were - see above sentence starting "you can't..."), I know I wasn't going to read any books while I'm writing my break out novel (haha) during Savvy Author Bootcamp but this one arrived and I couldn't resist:

"She watched the tea leaves dance and twist in the teapot. The agony of the leaves, it was called. The tea leaves doing their dance as they gave up their essence to the steaming water." from Agony of the Leaves by Laura Childs

This is her 13th Indigo Tea Shop mystery book in the series and I'm still enjoying them. I haven't written about them. I did write about her Cackleberry Club series here.

I'm thinking a nice cup of tea sounds good right now. What shall I brew? English Breakfast? Darjeeling? Silver Needle? Gunpowder Green? Earl Grey?

Since English Breakfast is all I have, I think I'll go with that. What about you?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mystery Novel: The Spellman Files, Author: Lisa Lutz, savvyauthors.com

Who's the fool - why it's me

I thought I had a blogpost subject - not so.

See I only read the beginning of this little nugget from The Lutzletter, Izzy Spellman Birthday Edition:

"Michelle Obama fires back at Spellman critic

Rick Santorum raised more than a few eyebrows recently when he called the Spellman books "a corrosive influence on our nation's morals, plus they're not even really mysteries or all that funny." We're surprised and humbled to report that the First Lady herself took umbrage. Speaking at a March 28 library fundraiser in Illinois, Mrs. Obama defended the books..."

I read that far and I filed it away thinking to go back later and ponder in depth on the First Lady defending romance novels. Although the Spellman Files are not really romance novels. They're technically myteries.

When I went back to read the remainder of the paragraph, I found this:

"...singling out Curse of the Spellmans as her favorite. "I pretty much peed myself during the pancake scene," she said. Get the full story at  www.aprilfools.edu."

Good one, Lisa, good one.

Have you read these? If so, what did you think?


I have randomly, arbitrarily decided that I will make Friday's:

BOOTCAMP UPDATE DAY

I have written 5 out of 5 days so far. I have 10,000 + words fast-drafted. Another 5000 words or so and I'll be done with Act One.

But Act One is supposed to be 30,000 words you say. You're right but I said FAST-DRAFTED. Big difference.

Fast drafting means only writing the dialogue. Everything (narrative, words you want to change, setting) else goes into brackets as notes to yourself. The end result looks like this:

"It's too late for you to be coming home making all that racket, missy," Etta Grumble grumbled. "It's indecent the way you run the roads at night."

Taffy "I'm sorry I disturbed you, Mrs. Grumble, but it is barely midnight and I was working," {pulls briefcase out of  car}

MG "Hmmpf. What kind of accountant works at midnight?"
T"I'm not an accountant, I'm a bookkeeper. And some of the businesses I work for keep late hours. I was picking up paper work." {partial lie- She was picking up paper work. In addition at her last stop she had put the paper work in her car and gone back in for a rendezvous with the scumbag bar-owner who was now permanently demoted from client/[fuck-buddy] to client only and lucky to still be that.}
MG"Hmmpf. Come on Clyde. Let's go to bed. Some of us keep reasonable hours. Don't be making noise all the live long night, do you hear me? I need my sleep or I’ll be grouchy tomorrow."
“Insomnia must be a chronic problem for you then,” Taffy mumbled under her breath.

“What was that?”

"I said yes, mam. I’ll be quiet." {wonders why she puts up with bossy, crabby old woman acting like she's the owner and Taffy the renter when the exact opposite is true.}

See how there is direction for where I might want to go with the narrative but it's not really written. And I have the word fuck-buddy in brackets because it's a concept in the book but I'm looking for better wording. You can see how 15,000 fast-drafted words could be 30,000 when fully written.

 There are reasons for writing a first draft like this. More about that later. It gives me a distinct advantage, though, because I haven't decided WHERE this book takes place, yet.

How's life outside of bootcamp with the rest of the world?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Romance Novel: Rule Number One, Author Nan Reinhardt

 recommendation number one - read Rule Number One

Nan Reinhardt – a woman after my own heart: 
“The Birks stay, Miss Margaret, I intend to be comfortable. You need to get over the sexy shoes thing. I just can’t pull it off. I damn near broke my neck last night in those stupid stilettos you made me buy. I felt like a giraffe.” Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

An obviously kindred spirit: 

“It’s not like she couldn’t scratch any small itch that came along—the beauty of her little, battery-powered friend tucked away in the bedside drawer.”  Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

Brief break to look something up – love this: 

What is a “keeping room”? (Go here to read the whole article.) 

"A keeping room is an area just off the kitchen of a home. Keeping rooms date back to Colonial times when families would sleep in that area when the rest of the house was cold. Since the area could be heated by the kitchen stove, it often provided the only heated place in the house..." wIsegeek 

I love it when fiction novels introduce me to new things. Everybody needs a keeping room. I even like the name. 

Wait until you read the name of the Celtic music band – it’s perfect. Not gonna tell you what it is but if you read my novel, Hungry Ghosts, it’s a word you’ve heard before. Oh wow – I binged them and they actually exist. Don't know if Nan intended that or not but go here and check them out. 

There's a lovely little scene in the book involving the pulling of a pint of Guinness. 

Dammit, why do I have to be an hour’s drive away from a Guinness? Curse this stupid dry county! 

"How would it be to hear that sweet brogue whispering wicked things in my ear?" Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

It would be extremely sexy. In fact, some guy with an Irish brogue should make a recording of himself whispering naughty things to be sold along with a B.O.B. I'd buy one, for sure. Or maybe not. I might not get anything practical done if I had unlimited access to that kind of temptation. 

In yet another effort to win my heart - Nan has made her heroine a swimmer! 

"It was more than exercise, swimming was a way to de-stress and unwind, and it sure beat therapy."  Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

"flummoxed" I love that word. 

My dad used to do this to my mom all the time: 

"He didn’t wait for her to answer, but instead led her around the sofa and danced her down the hall into the empty family room."  Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

Mom would pretend dad was driving her crazy but...fifty years later... 

“I’m not sure one can actually induce a coma with chocolate, but I’m ready to give it a shot.”  Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

Me, too. 

But can Nan write a sex scene? You ask. Why yes she can; and make you laugh at the same time. 

I know there are women whom this is true for; I only wish... 

"She did her best thinking while she vacuumed and scrubbed."   Rule Number One by Nan Reinhardt 

The final test - Can she write a HEA? Affirmative. 

And I loved it. 

You will, too.