Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh, and I AM still working...

Added 2, possibly 3 new paid jobs. Finally. No, not writing ones. Demoing and selling of sustenance and vices ones.

I have continued with Tuesday and the Moon. I have done some re-working and fleshing-out of The Kill Lina Fund. I have even remembered a story that I started in my head about 8 years ago or more and dusted it off for a fresh go. It's tentatively titled Fish Story.

But Tuesday must get cracking. I have therefore added a countdown widget. I have just over 4 months to write a novel.


See y'all later!

Memorizing Harry Potter doesn't count!!

Things running through my head lately...

I was looking at the Clarion 2008 workshop and realized something: I have no frigging clue who half of the instructors are, and have only read works by one of them. (faculty list here) Same for the who's who of their previous faculty and alumnae.

I read this list. It features 15 sci-fi novels that you must read. I, a supposed author of sci-fi/ fantasy have read only 6 of these 15 novels. 3 of them were read more than 15 years ago. I have not read even one of the items listed in the response comments to this post I've linked to.

Seems like I should at least read something of *all* past & present SFWA presidents. I haven't.
Seems like I should read something by every Hugo or Nebula award winner. I haven't.
Hell, I haven't even read half the novels on this list of authors/books that won BOTH the Hugo and Nebula. Not even close to half, actually. Want to know how many off this list I've read? TWO. I'm also astonished at how many I've heard of, but as movies, and as movies, they sucked.

I found this list of 100 great works, and then references to a book to BUY to read about books to read, which is kinda depressing. (the 1001 things to do/see/read/be before you die books depress me. I've got that much time OR that much money. not both. Makes me feel like my life isn't worth living if I'm not wearing Prada and I'm a size 2. I've got Hollywood and the fashion industry to make me feel bad about myself. I don't need to buy books that do that, too.) Maybe I'll check that list/book out from the library. Not sure it's worth the cash.

However, I did find this fabulous rebuttal post which makes me feel a mite better.

Anyway, here's the thing: I always say how much I like to read and how much I've read, and how I like sci-fi and fantasy... and apparently I'm a liar and a fraud. Memorizing Harry Potter and the Anne McCaffrey Pern novels doesn't count. Reading Jane Eyre a billion times doesn't matter. I'm not trying to release a novel in England in 1847. I need to know what's up with the market NOW. A.C. Crispin said so at a workshop that I took ages ago!! You need to know the market you're writing for -- and for a number of reasons! Why haven't I?

I know I'm broke, but money shouldn't be a deciding factor. I know what a library is, and how to use one. I'm less than 2 miles from 3 branches, and my boyfriend IS A LIBRARIAN. I know the "read it in Barnes & Noble to see if it grabs you" trick. I've even used it. Then why haven't I read more sci-fi??

Maybe because I got wrapped up in those multi-writer worlds for a while (Dragonlance is primary suspect), and I realized that all the decent works in that world were written by only a very small portion of the writers (Dragonlance: 190+ novels/ 12 by the "originators" that don't suck. That means 6%.). Turns out that those worlds are plotted by the finance group of the publishers, and they want the big bucks, and they're gonna milk the cash cow 'til the cow drops dead. Not exactly an enticement to read them.

Whatever the reason I'm not so well-read, I'd like your thoughts on the matter.

I'd also like to know your must-read list! Hit me!!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New Celebrity Sighting, Southern Food madness, and a new place in L.A. that I like

Ok, Normally, I don't get too tweaked by celebs... until Ed Asner and Abe Vigoda walk in...

I made shrimp and grits. They were nummy. If you've never had shrimp & grits, you're missing out.

I made fresh strawberry shortcakes, and forgot to take pictures before Gabriel & I demolished them. They were also tasty! For the biscuits, I used a recipe like this, except for some changes:
1- added sugar (evaporated cane sugar, the good stuff from Trader Joe's) about 1/4 cup
2- added molasses, about 1/4 cup
3- added 1.5 tsp of Vanilla Paste, also from Trader Joe's.
4- No buttermilk. Half & half, lemon & skim milk mix (out of buttermilk, but not wasting the amazing fresh strawberry opportunity!)
5- didn't roll & cut. Instead made a squareish dough shape and cut 4 squareish pieces with this scrapey-measurey-knifey-spatulaey thingy I got for free at a yard sale. (Mine is cooler. It has a ruler etched on the blade. Very handy, though. Get one!) I guess I took the scone approach, which made for a nice, light texture.

I then mixed some diced fresh strawberries, raw sugar, more vanilla paste, water, and a touch of cornstarch to make the strawberry sauce. I left it very chunky, and poured it over the split biscuits, added more fresh berries, and added Fair Trade Vanilla Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. Yes, you should be envious. Except that my oven sucks, and the bottoms were burnt. :(

I got the strawberries at the Grand Central Market, which has been open since 1917. I walked out with 2 large bags of produce for about $8. I got fresh cherries and lovely red potatoes and fava beans ($.69/pound! They're $2-$3 at my farmer's market!). Nabbed grape tomatoes, cilantro, and other yummies, too.

Had the most amazing fresh horchata there, which you must try if you never have. Most Mexican restaurants/cafes/stands have it on tap alongside the Coke in the fountain. The fountain stuff is OK, but get it fresh if you can! Technically, horchata could be any of a variety of melon or fruit waters, but the main one is milk, rice, sugars, and cinnamon. Good cantaloupe water is bomb, too!

Funnily enough, the huge fresh horchata cost as much as our entire lunch! We each had a single soft taco that took up an entire large plate! They came with extra tortillas and cost only $2. And they were gooooood! Horchata? $4 for the big one!

I have Kathleen Duey to thank for turning me on to the market. She posted about it on her blog on the June 1st, 2008 entry. I met her that day at Book Expo America, where she was signing her National Book Award Finalist book Skin Hunger. I must say that the book was wonderful, and I'll review it in the near future. And I'm not just saying that because I got a free autographed copy, honest!

Monday, June 2, 2008

China, you gotta chill.

Ok, Pissed off.

Just read this article about rules that the Chinese government is imposing on people visiting for the Olympics.

I understand them issuing a pamphlet that says things like "Oh, by the way, we do things a little differently here. These certain behaviors or actions are illegal." I'm cool with reminding foreign visitors of certain laws. However, if it's only available in Chinese (the Olympics is in English and French, btw), what good is it?

And if they're trying to quell rightful protests, or limit the ability of athletes or visitors to speak their minds, then it's just wrong. To me, this means that they have skeletons in the closet that they don't want known. Seems to me that if you have skeletons, and don't want them known about, then don't apply to host the goddamn Olympics!

I have nothing against the Chinese people. If the Chinese people have chosen Communism for their way of life, then that's cool, too! That's their choice. However, I do NOT agree with the current methods of the current Chinese government, and I also do not agree with some of their choices surrounding the Olympics. I most certainly do not approve of the treatment of Tibet. For fuck's sake, the Dalai Lama has to get PERMISSION FROM THE GOVERNMENT TO REINCARNATE!!!! Seriously, how retarded is that?

But I digress.

My point? The government of China has set up some really asinine rules, so in return, I have exactly one rule for the government of China: Kiss my ass. I won't have anything to do with your mockery of a beautiful world event.

I'm pretty sure that one or two more people out there feel the same.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Book Expo, and a review

So, I'm frigging tired.

The McDonald's southern chicken biscuit is a pretty tasty Chick-Fil-A ripoff, turns out. You can even taste the pickle juice in the batter. Oh, and so far 3 out of 3 locations near me do NOT have sweet tea. Bastards. Not nice to do to a Southern girl at 8 am on her day off.

I got a CRAZY amount of free stuff. I'm not kidding. The bags of books filled the entire backseat and floorboard of the car. I'll post a photo when I have it handy. Aprons, mints, postcards, books, bookmarks, ads, brochures, books, bags, books, frisbees, books, a whoopee cushion, books.... did I mention books?

I've even read one already. It's called Life Sucks, and it's a graphic novel from First Second. So far, I've loved EVERYTHING this company has put out. Life Sucks is no exception. It's about a boy who works at a convenience store who falls in love with a Goth girl. Problem: he's a geek. Another problem? He's a vampire with a very cruel master. That's why he works at a convenience store. the night shift, obviously. Think Clerks, but undead. It's a very awesome title. I wanna be published by First Second when I grow up! Also check out Vampire Loves. This is also the same company that put out the award-winning American Born Chinese. If they publish it, I'm very likely to buy it. I can't say the same for any other publisher, be they comic book, graphic novel, traditional, or otherwise.

I've had a nap. Now I want to sleep. Later!

Still here, exhausted and busy!

Getting off my ass now. I promise!

Since last post:

Learned to loathe LAX. A LOT. Not as much as if I'd been flying out on Airtran, tho. That particular terminal really blows. I got spoiled when I lived in Atlanta, because the airport makes sense and has a wide variety of excellent food options. At LAX, you are screwed!

All tomatoes? Dead. Tarragon? Dead. Most of herbs? Dead. Thanks a lot, random 105-degree heat followed by 45-degree nights. Yeesh. I lost over $75 worth of plants and WEEKS of work. That mint I've been nursing for 8 months? GONE. But the garlic is doing well (in the wrong place)!

Turtles are huge! more than 3 times their original size, and still growing! Lorenzo got put back in his teeny bowl for fighting with the turtles. Dude, they're TURTLES. they have snappy beaks! no wonder you're missing scales! relax!!

Ran into 2 old pals online that I missed a lot: Greg (from elementary school! WAY old history, and glad to have him back in my life) and Richard (from GA Renaissance Festival). Also caught up to Brenda, Nita, Eric, & Calvin from high school. I also found out that 2 of my old high school pals Heather and Andy just got married!

Further developed some of the stickier points in Tuesday and The Moon. Realized while talking to Hilary (Pingle. awesome actress pal from work. rising star, dawgs!) that I have GOT to get cracking. In order for people to test-read Tuesday by October, I need to have a first draft done in the next 6 weeks or so! GAH!!! Gabriel got a new job (YAY!), and is taking a trip to celebrate, so I'll have a week of being bored that will be excellent time to write. Wait, did I say bored? I'll have a car in L.A. for a week.... I could create a LOT of havoc. Of course, I probably shouldn't write that in my blog, because he might be suspicious at 8000 new miles on his car in a week... ;) Just kidding, baby, I'll be good! Truth be told, I probably won't go very far at all. Maybe to Chick-Fil-A. Which reminds me...

McDonald's now has sweet tea nationwide to go along with their southern style chicken biscuit and sandwich. The sandwich features 2 pickles. Cap on Chick-Fil-A much, assholes? Get your own damn idea! and keep the nationwide sweet tea forever, please! (The ONLY way this is acceptable is if the biscuits are made from scratch again like they used to be when I worked for mickeydees back in the early 90's. If these are those damn ready-mades, then I call DOUBLE whackitude. Ya heard that Ray Kroc?) OK, maybe I'm just bitter because I have to drive 30 miles if I want Chick-Fil-A. But I do it because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Southern Gal. But I welcome sweet tea near me. I just still call shenanigans on the golden arches for their ripoff, and rightfully so.

I have refined my grit-making technique. Bought grits (roughly 8 lbs. worth) while in South Carolina for Ginny's wedding to Roo. (YAY Ginny and Roo!) While there, I also had shrimp & grits 3 times in 24 hours. Life was real tasty there for a minute. Been pining since I got back. Thank god I can cook. I make a mean fried green tomato, too! Muuuuwahahahahaha!!! When I figure out the essence of the Flying Biscuit's Side of Love recipe, I will officially dominate breakfast. I still kick ass on my biscuits, though! (all butter, no shortening. Live free!)

Tomorrow, Book Expo! Yay! I'll miss the farmer's market 3rd week running, but what the hell. I'll be able to buy fava beans next week. This week, I'll hopefully be getting killer loads of free books! Just think, me with more reading material to gloat about!

Speaking of reading, I picked up Stephenie Meyer's new title, The Host. What a unique and enthralling tale! I was captivated the way I haven't been in a long time. Gone is the fanfiction-y feel of her Twilight series novels, and present is gritty, real drama delivered beautifully. Go! Read!

Ok, I'll report back on Book Expo digs soon!